Human microchipping is here; are you ready?
When Patrick McMullan wants something to drink while he’s at work, it’s like a scene from a sci-fi movie.
Utilizing a microchip implanted between his thumb and forefinge, McMullan waves his hand over a sensor, the vending machine immediately deducts money from his account and the drink is dispensed. At Three Square Market, a technology company in Wisconsin, 80 of his employees have been doing likewise for a year now.
Last summer, after being inspired by a Swedish company making microchips, McMullan announced a new program at the company where they would pay volunteering employees to be microchipped
The chips, the size of a large grain of rice, are intended to make it easier to do things at work like getting into the office without a key, log on to computers, and buy food in the company’s cafeteria, according to a statement from Three Square Market
The pros and cons
With a microchip and Wi-Fi, you can control your home by unlocking the door, adjusting the lighting, or paying for items at a store — all with a flick of the wrist. Your medical history could be instantly accessible if you’re admitted to hospital and you could use it instead of a passport while traveling, according to Three Square Market.
But there are serious security concerns to be aware of.
“Companies often claim that these chips are secure and encrypted,” Alessandro Acquisti, a professor of Information Technology at Carnegie Mellon University, told ABCnews. “But encrypted is a pretty vague term and can include anything from a secure product to something that is easy to hack,” he added.
A microchip meant to make peoples lives easier could be a way for hackers to track down information and companies could use it invasive ways like tracking down the length of employees’ bathroom or lunch breaks, without their consent or even their knowledge.
“Once they are implanted, it’s very hard to predict or stop a future widening of their usage,” Dr. Acquisti said.
There are also health concerns: an implantable radio-frequency transponder systems, the technical name for the chips, were approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004 for medical uses but they warned that in some cases, the implantation site may become infected, or the chip may migrate elsewhere in the body.
The future of microchip implants
Noelle Chesley, associate professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee believes that everyone will have a microchip implant eventually.
“Maybe not my generation, but certainly that of my kids,” she said.
While Gene Munster, an analyst at Loup Ventures, think it will take at least 50 years until it becomes more common and more usable.
“In 10 years, companies like Facebook, Google and Apple will not have their employees chipped. You’ll see some forward-looking tech people adopting it, but not large companies,” he said.
So far, microchips implants are only being used by some companies and their employees in Sweden, Australia and in the U.S. but it’s a technological method that is developing constantly.
Being able to buy a drink with a wave or not having to worry about forgetting the keys or wallet sounds great, but is it worth the risk?