It’s amazing how quickly cultural attitudes can change on a particular subject, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Take privacy for instance. 20 or 30 years ago, the average American would not have put up with any kind of privacy intrusion. That was something that only happened in poor despotic nations and futuristic dystopias, not in the land of free.
Now however, after the advent of the internet and cell phones, and the attacks on 9/11, most Americans have sheepishly accepted the loss of their privacy to governments and corporations. It’s become an unavoidable fact of life here in America. What would have inspired a massive public outcry just a generation ago, is now met with a shrug and a blank stare today.
Currently, we’re in the midst of another major cultural and technological shift. In the very near future, augmenting your body with electronics and effectively becoming a cyborg, is going to be the norm. And I’m not talking about pacemakers and surgical hearing aids. I mean elective surgical implants that will supposedly enhance our human abilities. Right now these implants are primitive, but you can see the writing on the wall. Clearly, our Western society is starting to welcome these advancements with open arms, for better or for worse. Take this German man who has decided to augment himself so that it would give him a modicum of convenience.
“When I walk into my studio, I just wave my hand at the alarm, and the alarm turns off,” the tattoo artist said.
“Whenever someone shows up with security clearance, he will wave and the alarm is deactivated, the lights are turned on… it will start up the computer, the cash machine and so on,” he added.
Oesterlund is one of the small but growing number of people around the world who has a grain-sized NFC (Near Field Communications) chip embedded in him.
In fact, so convinced is he that “this is the future” that he has two of them, one in his hand and the other in his arm.
“One year ago it was ‘that’s just stupid’, or ‘wow that’s just awesome’. But now multinational companies are looking into it,” he said, pointing to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky as an example.
In fact, Oesterlund recently installed this implant in a Kaspersky employee at a tech fair in Berlin, and he wasn’t even the first Kaspersky employee to do so. Evegeny Chereshnev got his chip 7 months ago, and hasn’t looked back. “It felt weird for a couple of weeks… Then I started to understand that I’ve forgotten what it is to carry a badge to work, I’ve forgotten what it means to open a door with a key.” You’d think that employees of a cybersecurity firm would be wary of putting electronics in their bodies, but I guess it’s just a different world now.
You’d be surprised what people are willing to do to themselves in the name of convenience, which if I recall correctly, was one of the reasons why our society stopped caring about privacy. And make no mistake, mere convenience will be enough to get most of the population to accept body implants too. In fact, novelty and convenience have already convinced thousands of people to get chipped.
Despite the limited uses, human chip implant manufacturer Dangerous Things told AFP that there are now around 10,000 “cyborgs” — or humans with digital chips in them — across the globe.
The phenomenon is not new, with a club in Barcelona offering such implants to its members as early as 2004, allowing them to gain entrance and pay for their drinks with it.
But its popularity has now accelerated with the ubiquity of smartphones, which can communicate with the chips.
I rest my case.