Companies are beginning to implant microchips in employees to improve productivity, security, and healthcare. No, this is not a scene out of a dystopian sci-fi film, it’s happening right now. The chips are typically the size of a grain of rice and are inserted under the skin in a relatively painless process.
Three Square Market, a US company, implanted RFID chips in the hands of more than half its 80 employees. The majority were excited to try out the new technology once the risks and rewards were clearly explained to them. The chips enable them to do things like open doors, log onto their computers, and purchase snacks from company vending machines with a wave of their hands. In the future, we’ll see chips that have advanced features, like GPS tracking, voice activation, and vital sign monitoring.
Biohax, another startup, is in talks with several UK legal and financial firms about implanting their staff.
“These companies have sensitive documents they are dealing with,” says Jowan Österlund, the founder of Biohax. “The chips would allow them to set restrictions for whoever.”
Is this a convenience or a gross invasion of personal liberties? Let’s assume we can use technology to protect a person’s digital identity, data, and rights: What about a scenario where the boss asks employees to get implants and everyone agrees except for a few employees. Even if it’s voluntary, will the employees who refuse be seen as uncooperative? What if they object to the way the tech is being used? Could this impact their chances for promotion or even lead to their dismissal?
These situations will surely arise. This is why the Trade Unions Congress, which represents 190,000 businesses in the United Kingdom, has voiced concerns over companies that are considering microchipping their employees.
“We know workers are already concerned that some employers are using tech to control and micromanage, whittling away their staff’s right to privacy,”219 says Frances O’Grady, the general secretary.
It’s one thing to insert a simple RFID chip in someone’s hand. But what if it’s a much more powerful brain chip? And what if this tech enables employees to perform at a substantially higher level than chipless employees do? Does this mean people without chips will be denied those positions?
I can envision a scenario where brain chips could enhance people’s abilities to do certain types of work to such a degree that if anyone wants to compete in the job market, getting an implant becomes the only option.
With chips in our brains, what privacy can we expect? There is so much room for abuse and even mind control that it’s frightening to contemplate. Are we headed down this slippery slope already?