The unthinkable happened again. CNN reported yesterday that a body believed to be that of a 7-year-old girl missing since January was found in Oklahoma. Suppose there had been a technology available to prevent this child's death. Should that technology have been put to use?
You might think the answer is obvious, but incredibly, it's a matter of heated debate. The technology is available, in the form of a GPS locator chip that could have been implanted in the child's body. If that little girl had been embedded with such a chip, she might have been found within minutes of having gone missing.
Even so, a lot of people are horrified by the idea of implanting a locator chip in a child. Having written on this topic in the past, I've quoted Scott McNealy, the former CEO of Sun Microsystems, who took a famously controversial stand on the issue:
If I could embed a locator chip in my child right now, I know I would do that. Some people call that Big Brother. I call it being a father.
The statement caused an uproar when McNealy made it in January of 2000, but it was a fairly moot point since at the time, the technology wasn't mature enough to be commercially viable. Thanks to major advances in implanted locator chip technology since then, these chips are being made available in other countries, including Mexico. Yet the idea remains taboo in the United States, where the "Big Brother" fear is apparently stronger than the fear of losing a child. That's as shameful as it is tragic.
I wholeheartedly agree with McNealy's position. To those who have a problem with that, I'll restate the challenge I've issued in the past:
Find me a parent with a missing child who wouldn't give anything to have had a GPS tracking device implanted in that child, and I'll keep quiet. Make a compelling argument that there's an abducted child who wouldn't feel the same way, and I'll shut up. Until then, I'll be a vocal advocate of thinking the unthinkable and doing something about it.
We have the technology. For the sake of our kids, let's have the fortitude to put it to use.