I will begin by answering my own question:

There is no way I would ever, under any circumstances, allow my employer to insert a microchip between my thumb and forefinger, like the employees of tech company Three Market Square did. I believe humanity has a remarkably poor track record when it comes to placing identifiers on their fellow humans--to say nothing of putting identifiers in their fellow humans.

Further, I don't trust my employer to not at least consider how they could use a microchip for purposes other than the ones outlined during microchipping orientation, and I say that as an entrepreneur who started his own company.

I mean, I trust the owners of McKissen + Company.

But not enough to let them put a chip in me like I was some sort of whale whose mating habits were worth studying.

I know this sounds like paranoia, and the employees of Three Market Square appear to trust their employer. The makers of the microchip, BioHax International, say it does not have a GPS component and will not be used to track employees. Instead, the microchips will allow employees to enter the company's facility, log into computers, and swipe their hand to get snacks from the snack bar.

All relatively harmless uses of an employer implanted microchip.

Still, implanting humans with microchips is the foundation for countless sci-fi movies, none of which turn out especially well for the microchipped humans. And, as we learned during the financial crisis, the 2016 election, and the ongoing fascination with the Kardashians/Jenners, in real life there is no Tom Cruise to step in and save us when humanity takes things too far.

The counterargument to my proudly Luddite position on microchipping human beings is that it's inevitable. We may as well step aside and be an early adopter, and perhaps the real question here isn't whether we should let our employers microchip us: the real question is who among us can be the first to show our Instagram followers that we've been chipped.

Admittedly, Three Market Square probably isn't going to use the chip to control its employees every move. The company probably won't send a painful shock if the chip detects cigarette smoke or some other undesirable but perfectly legal employee behavior that has a detrimental impact on the company's health insurance premiums. They probably won't use it to send a subtle jolt to an employee who spends a few minutes watching YouTube rather than working.

Still, is probably good enough?

Is this a line we want to cross?

Should we just let employers chip us, or do we need to save the other hand for the government?

Too often we embrace technology without asking hard questions, under the guise that whatever we're questioning is going to happen anyway--so it's best to get out of the way, and to above all else never look like you're not embracing the cutting edge of technology.

Even when the cutting edge literally means cutting you open and inserting a microchip.

That's why Elon Musk's recent call to regulate AI was so refreshing, even if not everyone agreed with him. It showed a willingness to ask questions about the relationship between technology and humanity, and to recognize that tech can have a dark side.

I for one will take a pass on being chipped, no matter who I work for.

Call me paranoid, but I've read too much sci-fi and watched too many episodes of The Office to trust the combination of the two.

Published on: Jul 25, 2017
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