Many of us are used to swiping or tapping a card to get into the office. But at Epicenter, a new hi-tech office block in Sweden, they decided to go a step further, – a chip under the skin. That’s right, they figured out that it would better to implant the workers with computer chips under their skin, rather than issuing them with ID cards.   It’s just a tiny RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip, about the size of a grain of rice, implanted in the hand.  They can also wave their hands to operate the photocopier. In time, they will be able to pay for coffee and sandwiches in the cafe with a touch of their hands. This is a move which ‘biohackers’ says is preparation for a dystopian future when governments and corporations adopt the same technology.  Soon, others among the 700 people expected to occupy the complex will also be offered the chance to be chipped. Along with access to doors and photocopiers, they’re promised further services in the longer run, including the ability to pay in the cafe with a touch of a hand. On the day of the building’s official opening, the developer’s chief executive was, himself, chipped live on stage.  However, not all staff seem obliging. “Absolutely not,” said one man when asked if he would sign up. 
BBC reporter Rory Cellan-Jones, for the sake of his investigation of theis story, volunteered to be microchipped for the story and had a chip injected into his hand.  The whole process is being organised by a Swedish bio-hacking group which was recently profiled by another BBC reporter, Jane Wakefield.  One of its members, a rather fearsome looking tattooist, inserted BBC reporter Rory Cellan-Jones’ chip. . The process is not that painfull, he reported: “there was a moment of pain – not much worse than any injection”  He asked Hannes Sjoblad, chief disruption officer at the development, whether people really wanted to get this intimate with technology. “We already interact with technology all the time,” he told him. “Today it’s a bit messy – we need pin codes and passwords. Wouldn’t it be easy to just touch with your hand? That’s really intuitive.”  However, when the BBC reporter tested his chip, he found out that “it was not all that intuitive.”  He Complained that he had to twist his hand into an “unnatural position” to make the photocopier work.  While some of the people around the building were looking forward to being chipped, others were distinctly dubious. “Absolutely not,” said one young man when asked if he’d sign up.  An older woman was more positive about the potential of the technology but saw little point in being chipped just to get through a door.  But Hannes Sjoblad says he and the Swedish Biohacking Group have another objective in mind that the immediate technologic gain; they are into desentization. What they want to do is to prepare us all for the day when others want to chip us. “We want to be able to understand this technology before big corporates and big government come to us and say everyone should get chipped – the tax authority chip, the Google or Facebook chip.”  Then, he says, we’ll all be able to question the way the technology is implemented from a position of much greater knowledge. For now they may not be that useful, but no doubt more sophisticated chips will soon replace wearable technology like fitness bands or payment devices, and we will get used to being augmented.  All sorts of things are possible – whether it becomes culturally acceptable to insert technology beneath our skin is another matter.