A man who is 37 years old has put 32 chips under his skin to make payments by simply touching the contactless reader. The man calls himself a “biohacker”, and explains why he decided to embrace what may be the future for the next generation.
The story was first shared by BBC UK. The man in question is Patrick Paumen, who explains that “The reactions I get from cashiers are priceless”, says the security guard from the Netherlands. Paumen is able to touch contactless readers thanks to a microchip that was injected under his skin back in 2019.
Paumen says that the procedure of injecting the microchip “hurts as much as when someone pinches your skin”, which sounds relatively painless. The chip uses near-field communication (NFC) to allow contactless payment systems to utilize the technology. There are also other methods and different chips available to take advantage of debit and credit card functionalities. Paumen says that the “technology keeps evolving, so I keep collecting more, [...] My implants augment my body. I wouldn't want to live without them.”
Are microchips the future?
For many people, including myself, the idea of having a chip inside our skin is an appalling one. A 2021 survey asked more than 4,000 people across the UK and the European Union, and it found that 51% would consider injecting a chip under their skin.
The idea of putting chips under our skin surfaced way back in the 1990s. The first radio-frequency identification (RFID) implant was carried out in 1998 by the British scientist Kevin Warwick (via CNN). The microchip injection procedure has been commercially available for the past decade, and thousands worldwide have embraced the technology and had a chip injected under their skin. We’ve also seen the idea presented even before that in movies and in the news. In recent times, there were some conspiracy theories that some governments would implement chips under our skin to provide proof of vaccines. Some people did indeed decide to inject these chips that could do that and store and show their ID cards, passports, and driving licenses, but it was never mandatory, and it’s improbable that it will be any time soon.
Microchips have a lot of benefits and come with many convenience factors that are simply unavailable in other forms. Having a chip under the skin could result in not needing to carry a smartphone, passports, ID cards, driving licenses, and other essential documentation as it would always be with us when required. These microchips do not expire, are painless to inject, and are also near-impossible to notice.
The truth is that there are too many conspiracy theories on the internet that suggest the complete opposite. While we’re not going to talk about those conspiracy theories, we must recognize that the likelihood of having such chips as the norm is very high in the future. While we are still many decades away from seeing this used in newborns, it could one day become a standard to make everyday life a little more seamless and painless.
There are two sides to the story, and many people, including myself, are against that future, and the idea of having a microchip embedded under our skin. A choice must always be given, and alternative methods must be present to suit everyone for one reason or another.
These chips cannot connect to the internet and do not contain batteries. They cannot communicate unless they’re placed right next to terminals that can translate and understand the signals. Pets are injected with RFID chips to help identify them when they’re lost, and it raises the question of whether we want humans to be identified the same way as pets. While the information is stored securely in animals, there is a lot of potential to abuse the system by humans.
Some people and scientists think of the under-skin chips as an extension of the internet of things; these devices offer another way for technology to exchange information and share data with one another.
In their current implementation, the implants make more sense for those with disabilities. Having a chip inside the arm or hand could allow people to have doors open automatically or activate a ramp for someone using a wheelchair. The chips have a lot of convenience factors, but the public’s disbelief will not go away any time soon. While people like myself are against this idea, it’s important to admit that sooner or later, it will materialize into something much bigger, and it has a high probability of becoming the norm for the next generation.