Illustration: Ashley Siebels
Why hire robots when you can just turn your humans into robots?
That’s what one Midwest tech firm seems to be asking itself. In Wisconsin, software company Three Square Market said it will become the first company in the U.S. to start implanting microchips in its employees’ bodies, making them corporate cyborgs.
With a syringe, a microchip the size of a rice grain will get implanted between employees’ thumb and forefinger. Using the near-field communication technology that you have in your phones and credit cards, your cyborg hand would be able to send data via an electromagnetic wave.
What’s so important that it would require a microchip signal to get it?
Would you get microchipped so that you could eat chips faster from a vending machine?
And Three Square Market said it’s doing this all so employees can get chips faster from the vending machine. With the microchip implanted in their hands, employees can wave their hands and get chips from the company vending machine, enter the company building, and even log onto their computers.
“It’s the next thing that’s inevitably going to happen, and we want to be a part of it,” Three Square Market CEO Todd Westby told local station KSTP about why his company is doing this. So far, more than 50 employees have agreed to get the implant.
Of course, the company emphasized that it will not force its employees to get the microchip.
These microchips are said to be biologically safe for you to receive, but are they safe for your personal data?
Although Westby promised that the microchip data would be encrypted and secure, the idea of implanting chips in your employee’s bodies does raise security and privacy concerns. The microchips can track your whereabouts: how often you enter the building or log onto your computer, and at what times you do this. It can know private data about your health, like how often you’re buying those chips. A lot of valuable tracking information for a company to have that can measure your performance. And even if a company promises not to disclose this, a hacker could.
Although these human cyborgs would be a reported first for the U.S., this implantation has already been going on in Europe. Swedish startup Epicenter said that about 150 of its employees have agreed to be microchipped, so that their hands can act as swipe cards, getting them into buildings and paying for their smoothies. A convenient way to get around the office, to be sure. But it remains to be seen at what cost.