Cyborg Staff: Transhumanism in the Workplace
by Amy Bennie
Human bodies have a limit. Take me for example, my eyes don’t let me read the questions that come up on tv quiz shows, but by putting in tiny contact lenses, I am able to fully participate in answering the questions on The Chase. And athletes who need prosthetic limbs no longer have to be concerned with it being a hindrance to their sport, with Paralympians being unable to compete against Olympic athletes as their prosthetic ‘blades’ would, in fact, give them an advantage. ‘Cyborgs’, the merging of the body with science and technology to enhance it beyond its normal human capabilities, is already commonplace when it comes to medicine. However, a Swedish company is turning its staff into cyborgs, not for medical purposes, but to simply embrace transhumanism in the workplace, and demonstrate their dedication to the development of innovative technology.
Epicenter, a Swedish start-up tech company, is bringing transhumanism in the workplace mainstream, by offering implantation of microchips into their employees’ hands. The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice, and while the microchip itself isn’t rare or revolutionary, being the same technology used in microchipping pets, it is the first of its kind to be administered to a wide audience for a different purpose. Instead of using swipe cards and fobs, the microchip is a multi-use product to open automatic doors in the office, use the printer and even order food, all with a swipe of the hand. As someone who constantly forgets keys, purse, phone, and pin codes, having something I couldn’t lose would certainly make life a lot easier.
The devices aren’t mandatory, but “being chipped” has become popular amongst Epicenter employees, with more than one hundred and fifty staff now implanted with the devices. The company even hosts monthly events where participants can get the implants for free, as well as implantation parties to celebrate those who got the chip. The implants are preloaded into syringes which are then injected into the fleshy area of the hand, just next to the thumb.
As always, the issue of security and ethics has been raised. If you use the chip within the workplace, then you are leaving a trace of your whereabouts and actions and there is the potential for the employer to track how long you’re working, how long you take having lunch or even on a loo break. Epicenter, however, has stated that they are not using the technology for this purpose and are using it solely for staff convenience and ‘to be part of the future’.
Merging the human body with technology in order to improve our capabilities is the type of transhumanism that we will be seeing in the future. As Epicenter is a business that runs on innovation, it makes sense for them to fully embrace that ethos and perhaps being the first employers to create ‘superhuman’ staff. Perhaps transhumanism in the workplace will be coming to TDMB soon – and then the whole team will be cyborgs! Cool!