Dogs have them. Cats have them. And plenty of other pets have NFC (near-field communications) chips implanted so that they can be identified. So why don't humans?
Imagine the convenience. No need to carry keys or credit cards; your car can recognize you by the special identification number carried in the chip. Terminals for chipped credit cards like they have in Canada and Europe let you tap directly from bank account to store. No more entering passwords for your computer or phone. It's an electronic business card. If you get mugged and your wallet and phone are stolen, you can still be identified, just like your puppy. Then there's our aging population. After all, a chipped wandering grandma would be a lot easier to find and identify.
In Stockholm, they are trying out chips at a co-working space, installing card readers at the door and on the copier so you can walk around like you own the place. According to Olivia Solon at Bloomberg:
"Physically it was like getting a vaccination; a pain in the hand that was over very quickly," explains Hannes Sjoblad, describing the moment a piercing specialist implanted a microchip under his skin. The NFC (near-field communication) chip allows the Swede to swipe into his office, set the alarm system, register loyalty points at nearby retailers and access his gym.
Imagine: You walk into Starbucks, the reader identifies you as you come through the door and your Triple venti soy no foam latte is ready by the time you reach the counter.
In the States, you can buy an XNT chip and injection syringe for $99. It's a kit designed for "a niche group of adventurous people; electronics hobbyists, biohackers, grinders, etc." Samsung will then sell you an NFC door lock or you can buy a reader kit to make your own devices. You are Borg.
It looked exciting — until I saw photos of somebody getting one installed in his hand and I almost was sick. (I don't like needles and if you don't like blood and needles, you won't like this photo either.) But conceptually, I think it's a terrific idea, and the chips will just get smaller and the installation less disgusting.
Then there are the downsides. What if your boss decides that this is such a good idea that it should be a job requirement? According to Hannes Sjoblad back in Sweden, all kinds of people are interested in his experiment. "Security companies, office operators, real estate companies and even military organizations want to see how this technology works." A lot of people are concerned that this gives their bosses too much information, that it is an invasion of privacy. (In fact, mandatory chipping is already on the political radar and has been banned in a number of states, where it is seen as "the mark of the beast" from the Book of Revelations.)
And not just bosses. As one consultant noted in SFGate:
If you buy a lot of pizza, or spend a lot of time at the alcohol aisle, where does that information go later? Does it end with your employer or insurance company? Once information is collected, it's not always clear how it will end up being used or abused.
A lot of people worry now about how much information we're giving away right now just by carrying smartphones. However, people are often willing to give up privacy and personal information in exchange for convenience. My wife is appalled that I gave my fingerprints and retina scans to the Canadian and American governments to get a Nexus/World Traveler card to get through security and across the border faster. If I was chipped, I bet I could save another minute or two.
Take the pain out of the process and I would do it. What about you? Vote in our poll here.