The implanting of microchips into the human body is becoming a new “trend,” in which tens of thousands of people around the world are applying to replace all personal identification documents, including personal identification (for each individual). It makes us become a “key” when going in/out of houses, offices …, even using this chip to travel on public transport. This is a trend of “Biohacking” not only happening in Sweden, but across the world. It can be understood as carrying electronic devices inside of our body, which has been on the pattern of increasing popularity when people started using more wearable devices like Apple, or Fitbit watches. The following articles will point out many research articles on the implant of the chip into the human body with its advantages and disadvantages.
Many UK companies plan to implant chips into employees.
According to the Telegraph, one of the largest unnamed customers of the technology that implants chips into the bodies of living people is a financial company with hundreds of thousands of employees. “Companies have loads of sensitive documents. Therefore, these chips will limit the exposure of some important employees. For a company with 200,000 employees, the deal is significant. Just 15% of the staff is already a huge number,” said Jowan Österlund, founder of the bio-implant company Biohax. Not to mention that hackers can fake RFID chips (hackers actually tried to hack biochip for a long time), implanting chips helps increase employee productivity.
In addition to restricting access to confined areas, microchips can be used to speed up employees’ daily operations. They can buy food from the cafeteria, print publications, and get in and out of buildings faster.
Chip transplant for employees is not too new. In 2017, the Three Square Market Company in Wisconsin, USA, implanted chips for more than 80 employees. Small RFID chips the size of a rice grain are inserted in hand to identify them, allowing employees to operate their machines properly. Interestingly, Three Square sells vending machines but is also a transplant implant manufacturer.
Insert the chip into the skin to test smart life
According to SCMP, the first microchip transplant in Sweden took place in 2015. The microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, inserted under the skin, usually in hand, can be used instead of a key, credit card, or train ticket. This trend is increasingly welcomed not only in Sweden but also in many other places.
Ulrika Celsing, 24, is one of 3,000 Swedes who implanted a microchip in his hand to test a new way of life. Now, to enter her workplace, the media agency Mindshare, she only needed a simple gesture of waving a hand on a small box and typing in a code snippet to open the door. Not only that, but the chip has also turned into an electronic bag and even replaced Celsing’s gym card. If desired, she could also use it to book train tickets.
Sweden is a country with a large number of people interested in new technology, and most of them think that the sharing of personal information has been classified and organized, is a sign of a transparent society. Specifically, it is information registered with the social security system as well as with other administrative agencies. People can even find out each other’s wages through a quick phone call to the tax office. That is why many people in the country are very active in the microchip implant, despite some controversy surrounding this issue. The implanted chips use Near Field Communication (NFC) technology and are “passive,” meaning they hold data that can be read by other devices but cannot read information by themselves. Although still limited in features, it is now capable of storing train ticket information, entry codes as well as allowing access to some vending machines and printers.
Improve memory by implanting a microchip into the brain
In just the past five years, the United States Advanced Defense Projects Research Agency (DARPA) has invested $ 77 million in the development of devices that help restore memory function to victims of traumatic injuries in the brain. Last year, two independent research groups conducted successful human trials, with very compelling results.
The test device at the Mayo Clinic above was created by Michael Kahana, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. It is a chip that can connect to the left cortex, monitor brain electrical activity, and predict whether a lasting memory has been formed inside your head. “Just like meteorologists predict the weather by placing sensors that measure humidity, wind speed, and temperature, we place sensors in the brain and measure electrical signals,” Professor Kahana said. As soon as the memory process in your brain is suboptimal, your mind may be faulty somewhere; the chip unleashes a slight electrical shock. The injection is so light that the patient cannot feel it, but still has the effect of amplifying the signal and increasing the chance of forming memory for them. In two separate studies, the researchers found that the test version of the chip helped patients with memory consolidation from 15% to 18%. In a second test, the device was attached to patients at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, with the help of researchers at the University of Southern California. This chip has been further refined. Research results published last year showed that these patients improved 37% ability to form and retain memories. After examining several dozen neurons in the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for forming human memory, Hampson’s team learned the codes that the patient’s brain uses to create memories. When the signal sending code was weakened, the chip was able to stimulate similar systems to replace and strengthen the patient’s memory.
Implanting an AI chip into the brain can make suicide for the human mind
According to Schneider, the AI enhancements can be used to complement neural activity, but if they grow to replace normal functioning neural tissue, then at some point, they will put an end to your life.
In a talk with the Financial Times, Schneider said that Musk’s project could be equated to “suicide on the human mind.” Although Schneider says the brain’s intelligence can be combined with the chip, “there will come a time when you will end your life …” and Schneider calls it a “brain squeezed Masterpiece state.” “The concern (the human brain) fused with AI, from a more realistic perspective than Musk imagined, is that the human brain will gradually stagnate or be destroyed. Moreover, our egos can depend on the brain. If the existence of self over time requires an absolute continuity in our lives – a continuity of memory and personality traits – radical changes can disrupt the continuity needed, “- Schneider said.
Musk is not the only one who wants to bring radical reforms to the human brain in the future. Ray Kurzweil, a futurist and chief technical officer at Google, said he expects we will be able to back up our brains to the cloud by 2045 – and that is what will turn us immortal. However, Schneider points out that we should not put our full faith in uniting humans with AI. Instead, more research is needed around the possibilities and consequences that this unifying technology brings us.
Chip implant: Personal privacy may be compromised
The convenience of implantable chips cannot be denied. What makes these chips different from credit cards or smartphones is that they can change quickly. However, once implanted, the chip is difficult to separate from its host.
With the feature of storing personal information, this chip implant technology also raises many concerns about security and personal privacy issues. Experts fear hackers could steal copious amounts of information from the electronic chips. This technology also creates health and ethical concerns for transplant recipients. Therefore, the top priority for developers and managers of these chips is to ensure the security for users.
In conclusion, biological unlocking is a new idea that is rapidly developing into a potential market as a rice sized chip that is implanted into the body. They are becoming increasingly diverse. However, with that, attaching microchips into people brings quite a lot of implications for humans as the above articles state. Indeed, when a supposedly intelligent device is tested on our own body, we must carefully consider all its advantages and disadvantages, and dare to take risks to have a breakthrough.
Government Technology, Chip Implants: The Next Big Privacy Debate. Retrieved from GT: https://www.govtech.com/blogs/lohrmann-on-cybersecurity/chip-implants-the-next-big-privacy-debate.html, 2018.
The Telegraph, Major UK companies preparing to microchip employees. Retrieved from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2018/11/10/major-uk-companies-preparing-microchip-employees/, 2020.