Perhaps not in 2019, or even in this century, but a time will come when the stigma behind the word “chip” will be appreciably reduced or become totally non-existent. Possibly, at that time, everyone will willingly get chipped to blend in with the technological revolution. Action movies over the decades have contributed to this morbid fear of implantable chips, where the bad guys usually inject a person with a chip to block some sort of brain activity or prevent them from performing a specific function.

TIP: Watch the video at the end of the article for one person's first-hand experience of getting micro-chipped

Analyst and investor Gene Munster predicts that humans accepting chip implants is still some 50 years away. “In 10 years, Facebook, Google, Apple, and Tesla will not have their employees chipped,” he says. “You’ll see some extreme forward-looking tech people adopting it, but not large companies.” He assumes that the big tech companies would prefer to steer clear of conspiracy theories and the inevitable accusations that’ll follow.

Chips aren’t GPS trackers. Let the fear go

The hatred for chips usually arises from the fear that an implantable chip is the same thing as a GPS tracker. They’re not – at least not yet. A GPS tracker is carried by a mobile person or vehicle and can provide information about the current location and details using a wireless connection to the Global Positioning System [1]. An embedded chip cannot serve the function of tracking anyone, but it can enhance the performance of daily activities. With the rapid invention of newer technologies and microdevices, analysts believe that future chips may be able to track locations.

The technology is still far away. Microchips could be as small as 8mm in length and 3mm in diameter. No traditional or common GPS tracker can be that small. Chips are usually installed by injection, while trackers usually have to be worn or strapped around a person ankle, wrist, or neck.

The proof that chips can’t track lies in the common practice of chipping pets. Most people have no problem embedding unique-numbered chips under their pets’ skin, which helps to prevent the animals from getting lost, stolen or illegally sold [2]. The chips don’t transmit to an external device where you can read off the location of your pets at any point. It only carries a registration number that is associated with the owner’s name and contact information. The manufacturer of the chip will add the information to a pet registry service upon collection. Most shelters and animal homes use a handheld reader to scan pets for chips and read off the information of the original owner. The animal may then be returned or picked up.

Chipping and biohacking

Biohacking involves every activity a person may engage in to control and upgrade their body, mind, and lifestyle [3]. It includes activities such as cutting out carbs from your diet, other major or minor diet changes, daily workout, using low blue-light on your devices to safeguard your eyes, hormonal and vitamin medication, yoga, sufficient sleep, all the way down to gene editing and wearing implantable chips [4].

In a layman’s understanding, biohacking means altering the body’s natural functions to become supernatural, such as the blood transfusion and molecule alteration that changed Peter Parker to Spiderman. A lot of people generally assume that biohacking exclusively connotes the creation of a biologically-enhanced person that can probably do things like flying, lifting buildings, crawling up 1,000 feet on hands and legs, and several other assumptions fueled by sci-fi movies.

I’m not sure how realistic this assumption is, but we’ll take it anyway.

Cut to the chase. What are the uses of these chips in humans?

Endless. That’s the word. Literally endless. These chips will be mostly using a wireless technology known as Near Field Communication (NFC), which uses the magnetic induction to set up an information-response communication between two or more devices when they are brought together in close proximity [5]. So, with your chip, you could unlock your car, board the train without showing a ticket, lock your doors at home, turn on your lights, and possibly log onto portals. They could also be used in place of employee swipe badges or RFID cards for the payment of purchases.

Top companies in chip production and installation are actually enjoying growing patronage from people around the world. People willingly purchase these chips and have them embedded to serve many purposes in their lives, homes, workplaces, and immediate environments. As of 2017, the Swedish company BioHax said they’d sold over 3,000 chips to customers who didn’t want to get on the train with tickets [6]. The Seattle-based company Dangerous Things stated on their website in the same year that they’ve sold at least 10,000 chips to customers, with both the device and installation costing about $200.

A spokesperson for the Swedish company SJ, the first travel company to facilitate the use of these chips said: “As north Europe’s largest train operator and one of the top 10 digital companies in Sweden, we are at the forefront of digital developments. Some people are confused and think they can be tracked via microchip – but if that’s something they’re worried about, they should be more concerned by their mobile phone and credit card use. You can already be tracked in many different ways other than a microchip.”

Chips aren’t illegal. If an employer insists that his employees receive implanted chips to allow access to the company’s facility, they wouldn’t be acting outside the dictates of the law.

It becomes illegal and extremely unethical when the chips are being used to perform functions which the wearer is not aware of. These may include location tracking, stealing health information, conversation recording, and anything else that infringes on the privacy and dignity of a person.

References:

  1. What is a GPS tracker? Rewire Security. April 22, 2019.
  2. 5 Reasons to Microchip Your Pet. Admin. PetNet. May 3, 2018.
  3. What Is the Point of Biohacking? Edith Zimmerman. The Cut. January 29, 2019.
  4. What Is Biohacking: Infographic. Dave Asprey. Bullet Proof.
  5. Near Field Communication (NFC). Margaret Rouse. Search Mobile Computing.
  6. You will get chipped — eventually. Jefferson Graham. USA Today. August 9, 2017.
  7. Peter Parker: Spiderman. Wikipedia.
  8. Dangerous Things. Official website.
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