Fulfilling Dystopian Prophecy or Furthering Technological Development? Swedish Company Experiments with Chip Implants for Employees

by Matt Klassen on February 3, 2015

While the vast majority of us have simply become used to swiping cards and tags and a variety of other convenient doodads to pay for a coffee, or ride the bus, or even get access to our place of work, a Swedish company has devised a way to simplify the entire process, doing away with PINS, passwords, and pass cards in favour of something a little more forward thinking: implanting data chips in its employees.

As the company, Epicenter, demonstrated this week, after having a chip no larger than a grain of rice inserted under the skin of their hands, the company’s employees are able to access and operate things like the photocopier and unlock doors, with the promise that the tiny RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip will soon deliver other services as well, including the ability to purchase food in the company cafeteria.

But are we ready to cross the Rubicon towards cybernetic implants? Are we ready to marry the physical with the technological? Undoubtedly there are some who welcome such advanced cutting-edge technology, with others still likely swayed by the convenience such implants promise. I would guess, though, that the loudest voices, at least initially, will be those who see such implants as nothing short of a fulfillment of a dark, dystopian prophecy about our future, one where such implants usher in a new world order defined by control and enslavement.

“We already interact with technology all the time,” Hannes Sjoblad, the chief disruption officer at Epicenter, told the BCC. “Today it’s a bit messy – we need pin codes and passwords. Wouldn’t it be easy to just touch with your hand? That’s really intuitive.”

In fact, Sjoblad already has his business card programmed into his chip implant, allowing interested parties to view it with a swipe of their smartphone. It is the future of technological interaction, the company claims, and there are certainly some companies who are already interested. I mean, imagine a world where all the locks and codes and security protocols could be opened with your mere presence, no fiddling with PINS and passwords anymore.

Of course as BBC Technology Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones explains, the implant, at least in its current form, is not overly intuitive, despite the developer’s claims. He notes that he often has to unnaturally contort his hand so that the photocopier could scan his information, awkward to say the least.

But will such bio-technology ever truly catch on? While religion and technology rarely cross paths, if you find yourself wary of such biological technology it may stem from the fact that many faith groups, most notably evangelical Christianity, have often gazed upon such biological advances with concern, with a chip under the skin that allows people access to things and the ability to purchase goods and services no doubt looking an awful lot like the so-called Mark of the Beast to some.

Like it or not though, Sjoblad notes that his bold chip implant program has another objective—preparing us for the day when others will invariably what to put a chip in us. “We want to be able to understand this technology before big corporate and big government come to us and say everyone should get chipped – the tax authority chip, the Google or Facebook chip.”

So with some already likely casting aspersions on this burgeoning technology, perhaps this is the time for early-adopters and the perpetually wary alike to take a long hard look at bio-implants, using this opportunity to develop a rational and reasoned list of pros and cons in an effort to influence or assist such technological development before either enterprise or government simply impose it on us anyways.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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