Image: © Richard Croft

UK firms want to put microchips in their staff

What it means: Who fancies getting a microchip inserted into their hand? They’re small, niftily unobtrusive and allow you to open locked doors with a wave of your hand like a wizard. (It can’t be just us who would enjoy running around shouting ALOHOMORA right?) But microchips could also allow your boss to remotely monitor your every movement.

According to two firms that make microchips for humans, BioTeq and BioHack, lots of UK businesses are keen on the idea of chipping their staff. Being able to see how productive different staff are at different times could help them squeeze more work out of workers: by identifying slackers, say, or figuring out what helps and hinders productivity. (Work output improves after employees visit the coffee machine? Might be worth upping the weekly Nespresso order.)

These attempts to improve worker productivity won’t necessarily be bad for employees. Perhaps microchip data will convince employers that productivity goes up when everyone work shorter hours. And it would be nice to never have to remember to pack your access pass again. But being constantly under surveillance might stress a lot of people out, and therefore decrease their happiness at work. There’s also a danger that pushing people too hard into constantly maintaining peak productivity will eventually cause mass burnout.   

Besides, many people will think microchipping staff is creepy AF, regardless of the benefits. The Trade Union Congress (Britain’s biggest trade union), the Confederation of British Industry (which represents about 200,000 UK businesses) and several British politicians have all said they’re worried that microchipping staff will trample on workers’ rights and privacy.

Read our explainer on how technology changes workplaces.

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Reader Comments

  • RW

    Your right to a degree. You mentioned “the wandering Jew”.

    I elaborate that the Jewish people, historically have tended to migrate almost exclusively to locations that are economically and culturally vibrant already. I would speculate that Jews have thrived in these places and have often improved the bounds of their economies and knowledge base.

    You can also ask; how many massive entertainment conglomerates, Nobel winners or billionaires has Isreal developed? If Jews are so capable, why isn’t Tel Aviv the Rome of our time?

    Jews are successful because they value education, maintain a strong social cohesive, they actively monitor and have a good sense for Zeitgeist wherever they are and they carefully choose the places they settle and congregate themselves heavily in these choice locations.

    But most importantly (haulocaust increased the importance of this aspect), they actually designed their culture for success. They not only attend Harvard, they use what they learned to better the group as a whole. With as much, they studied intricate networking systems, adapted to it and in many cases improved upon them. (See how Japan acquired Aegis warships and made them better).

    Of course there is nothing wrong with any of this. It’s when you elaborately gain disproportionate power in any society where you would stand out, you must take care when attempting to make a society better (Civil Rights movement) and rewriting that society all together (mass immigration). Ask blacks in China, Mexico, Philippines or India how much opportunity they have? Go to businesses owned by their American diaspora and see how many blacks they hire. Go to Silicon Valley and see how many East or South Asian tech workers wish they could work with more black people. California might work as a state, but as a nation, I think your rolling the nuclear dice here. I hope we can succeed as a tolerant pluralistic superpower but at this stage in human societal development, it’s a pipe dream.

    And if Jews really are the icon for success, they would see that fundamental human successes happen over generations. Just look at the rest of the planet? Are we ready?