Make Mine Potato


A Wisconsin software company is offering to implant microchips into its employees’ hands so that they can effortlessly open doors, make purchases in the break room, log in to computers, use the copy machine and so forth.

My first reaction is, “How lazy ARE these people?” I mean, opening a door with a keycard swipe takes, what – two seconds?

As for vending machines, is reaching into your pocket for a few coins or a bill really that much of a bother? The only advantage I see is if you only have one of those old, crumpled bills that the machine keeps spitting back at you … maybe then a microchip in your hand would be useful. Then again, it might make buying that candy bar or soda so easy that you end up eating a lot of that stuff day in and day out, then you could get fat and die.

There’s always a tradeoff.

The company expects that at least 50 employees will volunteer for the chip. Personally, I wouldn’t trade my privacy for a few perceived conveniences.

The company, I’m sure, is telling employees they won’t use the chip to monitor them. Then again, Hitler said he wasn’t going to invade Poland, and every kid on the planet swears he won’t ruin his appetite before dinner. So, I can totally envision a company control room where they track the employees and what they’re doing: “Hmm. Heller’s been in the bathroom 8.7 minutes longer than the time allotted for performing bathroom functions. He’s clearly either sleeping or playing Words with Friends on his phone. Alert the dogs!”

It could happen.

I would also hate someone knowing how often I screw up the copy machine at work (answer: a lot) or knowing whether I snuck out the back door a few minutes early on a warm, sunny day. (We don’t get many of those in Michigan – you gotta take advantage.)

I seldom think the slippery slope argument is a good or valid one. But I do think that the second we allow ourselves to be implanted with a microchip for some supposedly innocuous reason, things are only going to go downhill from there.

Say you want to order a pizza. Do you really want a microchip warning sent to your brain saying, “Don’t eat that! Have some nice kale, instead”?

Or, say I decide to binge-watch “Game of Thrones” on Saturday instead of mowing the lawn. Do I really want the lovely, yet formidable Marcia checking her “What’s Andy Up To?” app to see what I’m doing and then sending me a text saying, “Get moving, buster”?

I most certainly do not. If it ever came to that, I’d dig the chip out of me with my teeth, if necessary.

Microchips would also be the end of a teenager’s social life. Try parking with your sweetie when mom and dad can track your whereabouts and your heart rate from their smartphones.

The point here is that we’ll miss privacy once it’s gone. We should protect it aggressively.

Call me paranoid, but the only chip I want implanted in me is a potato chip.



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