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Cyborgs at work

From pacemakers to monitors that help you track your medicine intake, human beings have been inserting tiny gadgets into their bodies for ages. However, if a Swedish company has its way, every employee might soon get microchipped just to user the office printer. Epicentre, a startup hub in Stockholm, began a microchipping programme in 2015 and 150 people have volunteered to get implanted since then. The benefits? Convenience, according to the company’s CEO. So, is michrochipping employees the future of the workspace?

People volunteer to try out something new. I know that in Europe they were microchipping children in case they got lost. And I guess, to that extent, it is acceptable. It is my child and it’s my option. Also, a child should have the option of taking out the microchip once he or she grows old. But, if I lose the job, will I still be microchipped? I wouldn’t allow it to be a practice if it were my company and would not do it as an employee.You are tracking the employee the whole time and it is too high a price to pay for a very small convenience.I believe people volunteered for it just for the experience but think about it – we all got emails on the phone and everybody wanted to try it out because it was exciting. Today, I don’t want to look at emails anymore!

From Ms Misan Abu RmailehBusiness development head at a pharmaceutical company in Dubai:

"I think it’s a good move because it is just like an access card. I don’t see anything wrong with it. It is the natural next step – the lazy man’s way of getting around all the processes of finger prints and access cards.If it is implanted, it is difficult to forge and get access or entry and it is much easier than forgetting your keys or access cards. Everything you do is already monitored – when you came to work and when you left. This is simply a step towards the future.This is Star Wars becoming a reality, the ‘Beam me up, Scotty’ for us.

As for people’s concerns about the microchip being hacked or data being compromised – everything can be hacked. Most people keep all their data on their phones, you have e-wallets as well. I don’t think microchips are a major concern. It is just another element that you would need to protect. Also, you would need to restrict the amount of data you put on it, just like your phone. If it were offered to me, I would have to see the fine print on how much the information on the microchip would hamper my freedom. Just like your Emirates ID can now be used as an e-gate card, you could add services to the microchip. This is the future because I really think one day we will all be just known as numbers."

From Mr Hareesh Bhaskar Manager at a Dubai engineering company:

"Exciting New technologies need to be balanced. It is a very exciting prospect as I can see the amount of benefit it can bring to society, especially looking at the Swedish society’s progress. It might not be traditional but if you think about it you will realize that if it is implemented on a big scale and we do take time to implement it correctly, we can be more efficient. Processes will be faster and smoother because it will be like carrying a magnetic card that works at every time throughout the day. Whether it is payments at supermarkets or accessing certain areas, you will be able to get things done without having to go through a tedious process. I lose, say, half an hour every day spending time on certain tasks. That time is precious, especially for an employee. We are told to manage our time smartly and manage workflows. If we are always trying to look for methods to be more efficient, this would definitely stimulate such a change at the workplace.I also gave a lot of thought to the issue of invasion of privacy, but while looking up the subject, I realized that the chip does not really locate where you are or track your movement. Also, we invade our own privacy nowadays by posting several pictures on social media or checking in to various places online.So, this microchip would have a largely positive impact on our lives. it is a much more positive impact on our lives.Also, to explore progressive technologies we have to be open-minded about the impact they can have and if it does invade privacy we would simply need to take the necessary steps to address the issue."

From Ms Fatima Al Suwaidi Sustainable and renewable energy engineer working in Abu Dhabi: "There is something very wrong with voluntarily giving up your freedom. Yes, people are volunteering for getting microchipped and it is for convenience? That is what it appears to be, but at the end of the day it isn’t normal, is it? To microchip a human being is to say I know where you are at every given time and that is forsaking the freedom that every individual has.You’re giving up your freedom for a little bit of convenience but this is the tip of the iceberg, because it also means that in your free time, you’re being monitored. Perhaps you would make choices in your personal life but the company is monitoring it and claims that it is against the company policy. At the end of the day, they could terminate your services because your lifestyle doesn’t suit the company’s policies.Even in your personal relationships, they could monitor who you are with. Perhaps it would extend to accessing your personal information or your bank account details. How do you know that it won’t affect those sort of things?It is more about giving up control – someone else can control what you do, where you go and how you live your life. Who has a right to do that? That’s taking away your basic freedom.It is just an invasion of privacy and I don’t think we need to go to that extent for anything. There surely is a better way to go about this.I know the people in Sweden volunteered for it but people volunteer for a lot of things. We volunteer for new technology which is then used for something else. There’s always a hidden agenda, unfortunately.I don’t actually think that people would accept this, but corporates can make it mandatory and that would just lead to a whole new Pandora’s box – how far do you go with it? Also, if it ever became mandatory there would be nothing voluntary about it. I certainly wouldn’t like it and would object to it with every pore of my being.We have fought very hard for this freedom and have fought many wars in the name of freedom. There’s something very wrong with the thinking here.

Gulf News asked: If you were offered your dream job, would you be willing to get microchipped by your company? Yes 29% No 71%.

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