US Company Becomes The First To Implant Microchips To Its Employees

US Company Becomes The First To Implant Microchips To Its Employees

We're constantly hearing how robots are going to take our jobs soon, but there may be a way of preventing that dystopian future from happening: by becoming workplace cyborgs ourselves.

A company in Wisconsin is the first in the US to roll out microchip implants for its employees and expects more than fifty of its staff members to be voluntarily 'chipped'.

The initiative, which is totally optional for employees at snack stall supplier Three Square Market (32M), will implant radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips in staff members' hands in between their thumb and forefinger.

Once tagged with the implant, which is almost the size of a grain of rice, 32M says its employees will be able to perform a variety of common office tasks with just an effortless wave of their hand.

According to 32M CEO, Todd Westby:

"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."

The chips make use of near-field communication (NFC) and look like the ones already in use in things such as contactless credit cards, mobile payment systems, or animal tag implants.

The same type of human implants made headlines when they were extended to employees at the Swedish company Epicenter earlier in this year, but that's the first time they've been offered in the US across an organization as large as 32M, which has eighty-five employees.

According to Westby, when staff was informed of the program, they reacted with a mixture of reluctance and excitement. Ultimately more than half elected to participate.

The costs of the implant are estimated to US$300 per chip – which the company claims it will pay on the employees' behalf. The rollout could be a sign of things to come, which means that employees would no longer need to carry around their keys, ID cards, or smartphones to operate or authenticate with other systems.

Regarding security concerns and whether people should be worried about their employer tracking their movements, Westby claims the chips don't include a GPS component and are safe against hacking.

"There's really nothing to hack in it because it is encrypted just like credit cards are," Westby told ABC News.

"The chances of hacking into it are almost non-existent because it's not connected to the internet. The only way for somebody to get connectivity to it is to basically chop off your hand," he adds.

As if to prove the security of the technology, the CEO says his wife and kids will also receive the implants.

If employees later change their minds, they will be able to have the implant removed. However, that may not be enough to alleviate Big Brother-style privacy concerns held in some quarters.

While the chips may not track workers' location by GPS, they nonetheless could offer employers a huge amount of data concerning what employees do and when – such as how often they take breaks or use the bathroom, what type of snacks they buy, etc.

On its own, that information may seem fairly harmless, but it is possible that handing over even that level of information to your employer could lead to problems. The privacy issues could also swell as the technology evolves.

"Many things start off with the best of intentions but sometimes intentions turn," chairman and founder of data protection firm CyberScout Adam Levin told ABC News.

"We've survived thousands of years as a species without being microchipped, is there any particular need to do it now? … Everyone has a decision to make; that is, how much privacy and security are they willing to trade for convenience?"

In general, the leaders of the companies kickstarting this transition don't seem to understand what all the fuss is about.

"People ask me, 'Are you chipped?' and I say, 'Yes, why not?'" Epicenter CEO Fredric Kaijser told Associated Press back in April.

Based on Science Alert

US Company Becomes The First To Implant Microchips To Its Employees US Company Becomes The First To Implant Microchips To Its Employees Reviewed by Katerina Papakyriakopoulou on 11:05 PM Rating: 5


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