Publication Details

Ip, R., Michael, K. & Michael, M. G. (2008). The social implications of humancentric chip implants: a scenario - `thy chipdom come, thy will be done'. Collaborative Electronic Commerce Technology and Research (pp. 1-11). Spain: IEEE Computer Society.


Radio frequency identification (RFID) chip implants for humans are no longer the tales of science fiction. Already preliminary findings have shown that the number of people willing to get chipped has increased since the technology’s commercial arrival in 2002, despite the fact that adoption rates have been very low. This investigation presents three case studies of the main users/ innovators of humancentric chip implants. The first case is of a British researcher in an academic institution who has conducted several implant experiments; the second case, is of a hobbyist and entrepreneur who has focused on the use of RFID implants for personal space applications; and the third is a family who opted to receive RFID implants from a commercial organization. The results of the cases are collated and presented within a real-life context scenario. The intent of the scenario is to showcase the potential societal implications if widespread adoption of the technology was to ensue. Besides the privacy and security themes that are commonly discussed in chip implant studies, other issues covered by this scenario include that of equity and ethics. For instance, will chip implant technology cause a division in upper and lower social classes? And the ethical question of who decides who gets chipped? It was found that an implantee’s motivation to getting a chip implant is closely linked to the experiences they each hope to have after implantation. The scenario leaves the reader pondering whether or not widespread adoption of chip implants will be detrimental to society or just another techno-cultural change.

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