Saturday, 11 August 2018

Barcodes for Homeless People

The number of homeless people in Oxford has increased enormously in the last few years for various reasons that I detail in the background links below. It's very sad to see so many people sitting on street corners and sleeping in shop doorways in the city centre. The University has come up with an idea to help them. All homeless people in the city will be registered on an electronic database and will be issued with an identity card displaying QR-tags, a form of barcode. Then when a passer-by wants to give them some money they can do it using their mobile phone. They scan the barcode and send the person some funds which will be put into an account controlled by the person's case worker who makes sure it is spent on food, rent, passport fees or utility bills and not drugs or alcohol etc. The donor will be able to access the database of the person they've just donated to and learn all about him or her (usually him), how they became homeless, what their last job was etc. Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/08/homeless-people-wearing-barcodes-new-project-increase-donations/. This sounds benevolent at first glance; however there are major problems with it. It means that to be homeless means living in a miniature cashless society. This could be a trial run to expand the scheme into other areas, including people who are not homeless; such as the unemployed, immigrants, probationers, drug addicts, the mentally ill etc. After that, why not just say: "What the hell, let's just put everybody on the scheme and be done with it?" This is not the first time that homeless people have been used in pilot schemes for Orwellian social systems. In fact in the United States a local authority offered to insert microchips into the bodies of homeless people. This was said to be for their own good. It would allow shelter workers to scan the people and know about the care they had received; when they had last slept in a shelter, been given a meal, been given medical or dental checkups etc, see: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/01/under-the-skin-how-insertable-microchips-could-unlock-the-future. I know that there are good intentions behind these ideas, but when it comes to Big Brother we have to deal with capabilities, not professed intents. We must ask ourselves how this technology could be abused or weaponized. As for the homeless in Oxford; why don't the University simply pay to give them a bed for the night? It's something they could easily afford... many time over.

7 comments:

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Hi everybody. I must apologize because I accidentally deleted a legitimate non-troll comment. Somebody suggested empty military barracks be used as accommodation for the homeless. Good idea!

Laurence said...

Very good article Ben. I would not trust Oxford University on this, who seem to be more interested in their Athena Swan awards than anything else these days. The practical help is far more important but being unglamorous and unrewarded would be of no use to the dons.

Rick said...

Putting homeless people in military barracks is not a good idea. Pulling down the barracks and building flats for homeless people is though.

Rick

Steve said...

Hi Ben, thanks it was my comment. A regiment of former homeless guys I think would be a fantastic idea. A lot of ex army become homeless so the army must get involved. It has a duty of care. I'd rather be a soldier fighting for Queen and Country than a homeless drug addict. Better to give your life for something worthwhile. The cultural marxists will complain but I say let them! Cheers now. Steve

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Thanks, Laurence.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Rick, the two are essentially the same.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Steve. I'm glad to say the military does provide support for homeless veterans, not enough but they're making a start. There is also the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes. They put the NHS to shame quite frankly! Once you're out they want nothing more to do with you.