First Bill Gates brought us a better condom. Now, the billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft founder is taking birth control to an even more amazing level.
Gates is backing a long-lasting implantable birth control device that can be turned on and off with a remote control. With this device -- a tiny hormone-emitting microchip -- women who decide they are ready to conceive can essentially flip a switch and start trying, according to the MIT Technology Review.
The Bill and Melinda Gates' foundation gave $4.6 million to the Massachusetts-based startup behind the device, MicroCHIPS in January.
"The ability to turn the device on and off provides a certain convenience factor for those who are planning their family," Dr. Robert Farra, president and Chief Operating Officer of MicroCHIPS, told the BBC this week.
The device can also last up to 16 years -- more than three times as long as any comparable implantable devices on the market, including IUDs.
And just who came up with the idea of a wireless remote controlled contraceptive?
Why Bill Gates, of course:
The technology behind the implant was originally created in the 1990s by MIT researchers Robert Langer and Michael Cima and PhD student John Santini, who later licensed it out to MicroCHIPS.
But the idea for the device apparently came from Bill Gates himself. When Gates visited Langer’s MIT lab, he asked whether it would be possible to develop a birth control method that could be used for many years and turned on and off at will, according to MIT Technology Review. Langer pointed Gates toward MicroCHIPS.
The tiny chip is designed to be implanted under the skin and stores a supply of the pregnancy-preventing hormone levonorgestrel in hermetically sealed reservoirs on a microchip inside the device. An electric current passes through the ultra-thin seal to melt it, releasing 30 micrograms of the hormone per day.
MicroCHIPS still needs to conduct pre-clinical testing on the implant, which it hopes to do next year, and then file an application with the Food and Drug Administration. MIT Technology Review also noted that the technology will need to be heavily encrypted to prevent hackers from accessing the device.
Its creators hope to bring the device to market by 2018.
For now I'll leave aside the safety issues around having a remote-controlled contraceptive implant device in the body for up to 16 years and focus on the security part of the issue.
Who has control of the remote control device?
Just the woman with the implant?
Or can the device be controlled by somebody else too?
How safe can it be made from hacking?
In other words, can anybody else take control of it without the implantee knowing it?
Some people in the comments raise some concerns:
My concern is the hacking, but also they have to ID those chips.... just seems like another way to ID tag and track where a person is.... that's weird....
Is anyone else worried about a REMOTE control over your reproductive system? like there isn't a MASTER remote ... pretty soon we'll be hearing in the news ..."AND no babies have been born for the 6th consecutive month here in the states, wonder what could be happening?"
I'd be concerned with who controls the switch. Seriously, this is the kind of device that could be controlled by probation and parole officers and other government agents. There's a real danger that implantation could be made a condition of probation or parole -- or even of receiving governmental benefits like public assistance.
And I get really skeptical when Silicon Valley type like Gates gets involved. He's not doing this out of charity. People like Gates don't do anything at all out of charity or benevolence. It's about money and control. And this kind of a device really lends itself to all kinds of high-tech governmental systems of control.
And my personal favorite:
"Windows has restarted your uterus to apply security updates. Press here to see what updates were installed."
Sounds like tinfoil hat stuff, I know, but given Bill Gates' obsession with population control, these are the kinds of questions that need to be asked before this kind of testing goes forward.
Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation seem to want to control as many human and societal functions as they possibly can, all for "philanthropic" reasons.
Knowing the damage Gates has done in education through his "philanthropy," the skeptic in me looks at every other thing this guy and his merry men and women at the Gates Foundation touch and wonders, "Just what are they trying to REALLY do here?"
And when it comes to remote-controlled contraception that gets implanted into a woman for nearly two decades, well, there could be a whole lot of things they're trying to do that they aren't being upfront or honest about.