Microchip technology was also already being used in virtual collar plates for pets and companies use them to track deliveries but the chips are now coming for humans! Three Square Market, a company in Wisconsin, America is offering to implant chips in its employees. According to the company’s blog, company employees will have the option to voluntarily implant an RFID microchip between the thumb and forefinger underneath the skin. Three Square Market is not the first company to embrace the technology; Swedish company, Epicenter being one of the pioneers of chipping employees on a broad scale. It seems the cyborg era is here.
At the Epicenter of an ethical storm
Patrick Mesterton, co-founder and CEO of Epicenter spoke to Associated Press when his company started the chip implants. He said, “The biggest benefit I think is convenience. It basically replaces a lot of things you have, other communication devices whether it be credit cards or keys.” Mesterton even went on to illustrate how the chip works but he later appreciated that, “Of course, putting things into your body is quite a big step to do and it was even for me at first. But on the other hand, I mean, people have been implanting things into their body (sic), like pacemakers and stuff to control your heart. That’s way, way more serious thing than having a small chip that can actually communicate with devices.”
Ben Libberton, a microbiologist at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm however painted a gloomier picture of the chipped future arguing, “The data that you could possibly get from a chip that is embedded in your body is a lot different from the data that you can get from a smartphone. Conceptually you could get data about your whereabouts, how often you are working, how long you’re working, if you are taking toilet breaks and things like that.”
In short, this is a potentially invasive innovation. Libberton told Associated Press that the big question where such data is collected is who uses the data and for what purpose.
Another potential problem are health concerns associated with such chips. Though generally safe, chips may migrate elsewhere in the body or the implantation site may become infected.
A Futuristic Market
At Three Square Market, the chips will be used to make purchases in the break room micro-market, open doors, login to computers and use the copy machine. The CEO, Mr Todd Westby told NPR, “We foresee the use of RFID technology to drive everything from making purchases in our office break room market, opening doors, use of copy machines, logging into our office computers, unlocking phones, sharing business cards, storing medical/health information, and used as payment at other RFID terminals. Eventually, this technology will become standardised allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities, etc.”
Westby’s projection may seem a little too optimistic but in his company, over 50 staff members have shown interest in being “chipped”. Epicenter has an even bigger number of around 150 workers interested in having the implants.
Westby says his whole family and his friends want to be chipped. However, people outside the precincts of these technological companies are more reluctant to have chips implanted. NPR’s report on a gathering of “body hackers” in 2016 notes one bystander who observed, “More than the crazy concept, it’s actually people’s willingness to accept it. That’s why it’s crazy to me…People are just willing to just line up and go, ‘Yeah, stick that in me.’ ”
In the 2016 at the Austin Convention Center in Texas, Grindhouse Wetware’s CEO, Ryan O’Shea made a bold declaration: “You know, the era of transhumanism, I would say, is here.”
George Orwell’s 1984 may have seemed like a far-fetched dystopian political commentary but in 2017, a decidedly dystopian reality is upon us. The age of the cyborgs in is fast approaching.