The next time your boss asks you to do something you’d rather not, just remember that it could always be worse: you could be working for Three Square Market.
The Wisconsin firm, which designs software that is used in office complex break room markets, has found itself in the spotlight after announcing its intention to be the first American firm to offer its workers microchip implants.
Chief Executive Officer Todd Westby said that he believes this is “the next big thing” and he wants his company to be a part of it.
People can currently buy items at the market with their smartphones, and now he wants to take the phone out of the equation entirely by implanting microchips into people’s hands. Checkout will start out the normal way, with a person’s items being scanned. When it’s time to pay, rather than handing over their credit card, they’ll simply wave their hand. The RFID chips communicate using electromagnetic fields and can be read from distances of up to 6 inches.
The company says that the chip implant is not required, but incredibly, 50 employees have already volunteered themselves as human guinea pigs for this project. The company will foot the bill for the chips, which cost $300 a piece. The microchips are placed inside a shell that is slightly bigger than a grain of rice. They will be implanted between the person’s thumb and forefinger using an instrument that is similar to a syringe during a “chip party” at the company on August 1.
While Westby was quick to point out that people’s data is encrypted and secure and the chip does not have GPS tracking, it’s hard to believe that they have convinced 50 people to get on board already. And what are they putting their health and privacy at risk for? A slightly more convenient way to do things that are already not much of a hassle – namely, swiping badges to open doors, logging in at their computers, and paying for items at the market.
It’s hard to say for sure how this could affect a person’s health as there are no long-term studies. However, these microchips are very similar to those used to keep track of pets, which is pretty alarming given their track record. Some owners have reported that their dogs and cats experienced weakness in all of their limbs because the chips were not placed precisely.
There is even an entire website, Chipmenot.org, that is devoted to pet owners whose pets died because of their chips, with serious problems like blood loss, spinal cord injury, lymphoma and cancer being blamed on the chips. Picture after picture shows the cute faces of countless furry friends accompanied by a brief description of how their lives were adversely impacted – or ended – by these chips, with many of them developing tumors around their implanted microchips. These employees must really love their company if they are willing to subject themselves to this invasive procedure.
While it’s true that smartphones can be used to keep track of you and your personal data can be hacked frighteningly easily, you can always turn your phone off or leave it behind. A microchip, on the other hand, is always there, unless you have it removed surgically.
If there is one upside to this bizarre situation, it’s that the employees are supposedly being given a choice. Some people believe that one day we won’t get to decide for ourselves and that governments will start forcing people to use implants, compromising their privacy and freedom. For example, people could be prevented from accessing government services and benefits one day if they don’t agree to get implanted. The possibilities are endless – not to mention frightening.