Imagine never having to remember a computer password again.
Imagine walking into the bank and not wracking your brain for your ATM pin code. Or never wondering where you left your credit card or ID.
Imagine sailing through airport security without producing a driver’s license or passport. Or through your security gate at work without fumbling for an ID card that you left in your other jacket.
It’s not sci-fi fantasy. This wireless, keyless, cardless world for everyone who loses or misplaces stuff (that is, everyone), for those can’t hold reams of passwords in their head (everyone), for those who carry unruly stacks of credit cards and rewards cards (everyone), is now dawning. Not only in Silicon Valley. Or in Elon Muskville.
It’s dawning in Wisconsin. Three Square Market of River Falls, Wis., a vending-machine software developer, boasts that it is the first U.S. company to implant microchips in its employees who volunteered. The rice-grain-sized chip, implanted between the thumb and forefinger, emits a radio frequency that allows employees to open doors, pay for purchases in the company cafeteria, share business cards and log into their computers, all with a wave of their hand.
So far, 43 of its 85 employees have been chipped, with 10 more to be done later, a company spokeswoman tells us.
No more wallets, keys, credit cards? Everything available with a flick of the wrist? Sounds great.
We understand how some technophobes would find this creepy. Three Square promises it won’t be tracking its employees via GPS to make sure they’re on business and not at the casino. But still. It’s easy to see how an innocent company promotion could morph into something Big Brotherish, particularly if the government starts chipping people.
But chips could also monitor body functions and alert medical authorities in emergencies. Children or people with memory issues would never be lost if a chip broadcast their location. Criminals willing to be chipped could be monitored without ankle bracelets.
No wonder Elon Musk, founder of Tesla cars and SpaceX, is a cheerleader for this technology. The billionaire entrepreneur launched a company called Neuralink Corp. to explore technology of “implanting tiny brain electrodes that may one day upload and download thoughts,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Hmm. Sounds like this could get out of hand.
Privacy advocates and civil libertarians, please feel free to blow a gasket.
But we’re intrigued. Chip away, Three Square. Let’s see if this tech works as advertised. We’ll watch your pioneering employees and dream of a world without passwords, keys or ID and credit cards.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE