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Thread: Tagging all living things

  1. #1 Tagging all living things 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    The world is changing. One change is the development of new technologies in tagging. Microvideo cameras. Implantable RFID's. Tiny radio repeaters. Robots of all shapes and sizes. Not only this, but the ability to produce them in enormous quantity at very low cost.

    The following is speculation, but I suspect will be very accurate speculation. We already place video cameras inside mobile objects imitating rocks, or tree logs etc., in order to move them close to wild life. Now imagine a similar thing with the mobile video cameras being so small as to be essentially invisible, and the numbers immense and the cost tiny. Will we then place a dust mote size video camera, monitored by a distant computer, onto each and every large wild animal on the planet?

    Of course, such micro-robotics will also allow us to kill. It would become ridiculously easy to wipe out all the nuisance animals in places where they should not be.

    Imagine our brave new world of conservation. Each undesirable animal is gone. All the undesirable weeds eradicated by the army of robots dedicated to that task. Every animal and plant considered desirable tagged with radio, video etc. All monitored by the super computers of the future. Poachers would not be able to get away with their crimes. The tending of wilderness areas would become highly effective. We might even have radio-pills inside each animal monitoring its health and giving early warning of problems.

    Am I being silly with this speculation? Do you think it will happen? If so, do you see this as a good thing?


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  3. #2  
    Malignant Pimple shlunka's Avatar
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    You'd have to enlist thousands in order to tag all living things. Why, just tagging a single cheetah would require a large group strategically placed quick-footed taggers. On a serious note: I don't think what you describe would be practical. Couldn't a disease be engineered to specifically target a desired species?


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  4. #3  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    The rapid reproductive cycles of most pest arthropods, the almost entirely internal life cycles of parasitic invertebrates, the mimicry and very subtle differences between beneficial and harmful parasitic taxa that are related all would make your suggestion unfeasible,
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Ph.D.
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    Ubiquitous monitoring of wildlife requires decision making by computers that would be beyond direct human oversight. It's more likely to be preferentially employed in the ubiquitous monitoring of people of course even if identifying animals by species is going to be easier than identifying humans by behaviours.

    Human influence is so widespread across the planet it means non-interference in natural ecosystems is illusory and not an option but we are a long way from incorporating the kinds understandings of living ecosystems we already have into management practices sufficient to be competent husbanders of the remnants. I'm not sure we are even capable of agreement on what the goals of managed 'natural' ecosystems should be. Most will be in transition in terms of climate zone for the foreseeable future as well.

    Looks like people who see economic opportunities in exploiting the resources within those areas will continue to consider their loss a small thing. When a nation is prosperous, we can and often do choose to forego the use of those resources (noting that these have generally survived as well as they have because the resources were poor grade or unrecognised), but I think it takes a solid basis of sustainable wealth for hard times and immediate need to not become the universal excuses to sacrifice those remnants.

    Technology, including monitoring will be an important aid, but I suspect the technologies that matter most to our remnant wildlife will be more fundamental; low emissions energy, resource and waste management, sustainable agricultural practices.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Bachelors Degree GoldenRatio's Avatar
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    Who gets to determine what plants & animals are undesirable?

    I dont like spiders, but they have there purpose in insect population control.

    Not a fan of snakes either but they help keep the mice & rat population in check.

    Who gets to choose unwanted?
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  7. #6  
    Forum Masters Degree mat5592's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldenRatio View Post
    Who gets to determine what plants & animals are undesirable?

    I dont like spiders, but they have there purpose in insect population control.

    Not a fan of snakes either but they help keep the mice & rat population in check.

    Who gets to choose unwanted?
    I believe he said nuisance animals that shouldn't be there. As in animals that weren't there until some human irresponsibly placed them there, putting certain ecosystems in danger.
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  8. #7  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    That is correct, mat.
    As a New Zealander, I am uncomfortably aware of the terrible ecological damage alien animals do. We have rats, stoats, rabbits, opossums and more that do not belong in our ecology, doing terrible things to our native ecosystems. The ability to get rid of them will be a major bonus.

    On delivering the tags, whatever they may be, I think you have to allow for a much more sophisticated method than anything currently available. We are talking of the future after all. I read an article recently about research into micro-flying drones, that may become self directing, to be used as replacements for bees to pollinate crops, if that becomes required. If such technology is developed, then delivering tiny video cameras or other tags to wild animals, under computer control, will become quite practical.

    Some of the responses above seem to be motivated by a lack of imagination. Stretch your minds. What humans will be able to do in the future will be dramatically greater than what we can do today. The super-computers of the future will also have capabilities we can barely imagine today.
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  9. #8  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    no offence but "think outside the box" is not a viable answer to the problems raised with the suggestion.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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  10. #9  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    no offence but "think outside the box" is not a viable answer to the problems raised with the suggestion.
    Nor have I said that.


    Since we do not yet have that technology, we must work with what we have. But there is no harm in indulging in a little speculation about what we might have in the future.
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  11. #10  
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    If we had anything remotely like that robotic system, we'd probably also have got around to devising a multi-species long-life contraceptive for whole groups of pest animals. Being able to make rats, rabbits, possums, pigs, camels and the like sterile for 5 or more years would be a great boon for conserving or restoring various environments.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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  12. #11  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard
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    Don't worry. The human population is predicted to double in the next decade or so and all those nasty animals will be needed as food.
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