In the U.S., inserting a microchip into your beloved pet as a means to keep track of it is still viewed as something of a luxury usually employed by only the most devoted pet owners. But now a new law in the U.K. will make the practice of chipping your dog a requirement by 2016.
The U.K.-government initiative came about as a means to control the exploding number of stray dogs on the nation's streets, which number somewhere in the range of 110,000. According to the government's figures, roughly 60 percent of the nation's pet dogs are already carrying chip implants. The chip, which is about the size of a grain of rice, is generally implanted somewhere on the back of the neck or between the shoulders of the pet and files the animal in a national database.
After the new law goes into effect, pet owners who don't chip and register their dogs will face the possibility of a fine of up to $785. Interestingly, the law even accounts for possible changes in pet ownership by requiring that the chip's registration details be changed to reflect the new owner's details upon transfer, essentially making owning a pet in the U.K. akin to owning a car.
Of course, some view these new chipping rules as a precursor to the eventual mandatory chipping of humans at birth, and just last year an email hoax spread throughout the U.S. promoting the false notion that Obamacare somehow included mandatory chipping of humans.
Despite the seemingly outlandish nature of such urban myths, as microchip implants become ever more useful, it's worth considering what a future in which similar chipping laws for humans are mandatory, or perhaps even popular and voluntary, might look like. DARPA has already revealed plans to implant soldiers with diagnostic nanochip implants.