Sweden has a global reputation as a leader in developing innovative technologies. But will a trend for inserting microchips in the human body catch on? The Local spoke to one of the first Swedes to choose an implant to unlock her office door.
Emilott Lantz, 25, from Umeå in northern Sweden, got a microchip inserted into her hand last week.
She became a guinea pig during Sime 2014 in Stockholm – a conference about digitalism, the internet, and the future. In line with the goals of the event, participants were offered to get a microchip fitted for free – an opportunity Lantz jumped at.
“I don’t feel as though this is the future – this is the present. To me, it’s weird that we haven’t seen this sooner,” she tells The Local.
There is evidence that the number of chip-wearers in Sweden is growing rapidly.
"This has very much been an underground phenomenon up until now, but there are perhaps a 100 people with the chip in Sweden," says Hannes Sjöblad from the Swedish biohackers group BioNyfiken.
In the last month alone 50 people from the group underwent the procedure.
The technology has previously been used for key tags or chips in our pets’ necks to let them through cat flaps. What is relatively new is inserting the chip in human hands.
The idea is that instead of carrying keys or remembering pins or passwords for our phones or doors, people fitted with microchips can use them to unlock rooms or lockers, by placing their hand against a machine that reads the information stored in the chip.
It was the appeal of minimizing the number of keys she needed to carry around that was the deciding factor for Lantz.
But her decision to go through with the procedure has brought mixed reactions from her friends and family, some saying she’s been foolish while others argue it’s a cool idea.
“The technology isn’t new but the subject becomes sensitive just because it’s in the human body,” she says.
The chip, which is the size of a grain of rice, has been designed to stay in Lantz’s hand for the rest of her life.
“I’m not surprised that people think it’s a big deal – it’s not that common yet, but I think it will be. We’re already modifying our bodies, why should this be different?”
Lantz first came in contact with the idea while attending the conference Geek Girl Meetups last year, where she heard speaker Carin Ism talk about transhumanism.
Transhumanism is a movement that explores science and technology innovations and their relationship to humanity. Its goal is to challenge humanity by using emerging technologies that enable humans to go beyond their current limitations.
“I’m super stoked to have had this done – I can’t wait for the property agent to get back to me about letting me into the system so that I can use my chip instead of my keys to get into the office,” says Lantz.
BioNyfiken's Hannes Sjöblad says it makes sense that Sweden is starting to embrace the technology.
"There's a reason that this is happening in Sweden first and not anywhere else. Swedes have a proven track record of being very early adapters of new technologies and the current mood is very conductive to this type of experimenting," he says.
Lantz adds: “besides having a chip in my hand, I’m a pretty normal person."
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Workers at a new high-technology office building in central Stockholm are doing away with their old ID cards on lanyards, and can now open doors with the swipe of a hand — thanks to a microchip implanted in the body.
The radio-frequency identificatio (RFID) chips are about 12 mm long and injected with a syringe.
"It's an identification tool that can communicate with objects around you," said Patrick Mesterton, CEO of the building, Epicenter Office.
"You can open doors using your chip. You can do secure printing from our printers with the chip, but you can also communicate with your mobile phone, by sending your business card to individuals that you meet," he said.
Mesterton thinks some of the future uses for implanted chips will be any application that currently requires a pin code, a key or a card, such as payments.
"I think also for health-care reasons ... you can sort of communicate with your doctor and you get can data on what you eat and what your physical status is," Mesterton said.
"You have your own identification code and you're sending that to something else which you have to grant access to. So there's no one else that can sort of follow you on your ID, so to say. It's you who decides who gets access to that ID," he said.
The implant program is voluntary for the workers in the office complex.
"It felt pretty scary, but at the same time it felt very modern, very 2015," said Lin Kowalska shortly after she had a microchip implanted in her hand.
Like any survival-centered human, I let technology pull me along to nirvana.
Why, I now have an iPhone 6. Though I confess that when I took one look at Google Glass, I was reluctant to take two looks at Google Glass.
I'm not sure, though, that I would ever allow electronics to be -- how may I put this? -- inserted inside me. Permanently, that is.
Yet this is what one Swedish woman has done to make her obviously difficult life less onerous. As Sweden's the Local reports, 25-year-old Emilott Lantz from Umeå has a vast existential problem. She really doesn't like carrying keys around.
So she found a completely forward-thinking solution: she had a rice grain-sized microchip inserted in her hand last week.
Some people's instincts will undoubtedly tell them that only those with a brain the size of a rice grain would do such a thing.
But Lantz, who works for IT consultancy firm Codemill, believes such people may have limited imaginations. She told the Local: "I don't feel as though this is the future. This is the present. To me, it's weird that we haven't seen this sooner."
In one sense, she is right. If there are people prepared to walk around in cyborgian glasses or talk to their watches, at least a microchip shows discretion.
And she's not the only one to let this particular tech get under her skin. She attended the Sime tech conference in Stockholm, where participants were offered the procedure for free. Around 50 members of a Swedish biohackers group called BioNyfiken had the same procedure done in the past month, according to the Local report.
The handchip technology works in a very simple manner: you place your hand against a scanner and you're either admitted or your hand begins to glow, then it burns until it falls off. (That sanction was my own futuristic fantasy.)
Lantz seems to feel a frisson at the idea that she will be able to walk through her office door without having to remember keys or a passcode. She told the Local: "I'm super stoked to have had this done. I can't wait for the property agent to get back to me about letting me into the system so that I can use my chip instead of my keys to get into the office."
I suspect she's quite a character.
Extremely talented film-maker.
Love has always been our future however from day zip. The final line "let there be light" is a play on Genesis... nice... but we've already had that happen once.
Thanks for the link KMA and RG. Transcript of video below:
We are from the future.
Everything is going to be alright.
Humanity is about to undergo an astonishing revolution.
Many have called for this revolution, but few understand what it truly means.
This coming revolution is part of a great progression towards an awakening of staggering proportions.
Life force is the creative self-organizing intelligence orchestrating all of this behind the scenes.
Life force is experienced by you as the feeling of Love - for Life and Love are the same.
What humanity is about to become is quite inconceivable to you right now,
But we are here to help make this transition a little easier.
[YOU ARE NOT ALONE]
Like gyroscopic force stabilizes a motorcycle - Life force [Love] stabilizes all living systems.
Populations full of love, cultivate honesty, courage and generosity, self-organizing and self -regulating without the need for coercive control.
Populations with deficits in love succumb to fear, violence and corruption, inviting coercive governments to combat the chaos and entropy that arises in the absence of love’s organizing intelligence.
Just as Life force is experienced as love, entropy is experienced as ego, hatred and fear.
The corrupt and power hungry feed on this fear.
Without enough gyroscopic force to keep it upright a motorcycle falls, likewise without enough love to keep them upright free and idealistic governments fall.
Populations too fearful, selfish and chaotic to stand on their own, invite despotic governments to forcefully rule and stabilize them like a kickstand for those who've lost their minds.
As long as a population has more fear than love, what appears to be democracy is often little more than a spectacle to mesmerize the masses. Autocratic power still operates behind the scenes. Its media directs people’s unconscious fears and aggressions towards invented enemies, insane competitiveness, rabid consumerism and addiction.
THIS SYSTEM WILL SELF DESTRUCT.
This system glorifies the ego, the embodiment of entropy, which convinces you that you are alone against the world, causing alienation, fear and aggression.
The core values of your culture have been hijacked, forging a pathologically antisocial anti-ecological system obsessed with profit, power and control.
THIS SYSTEM WILL SELF DESTRUCT.
Real change must now come from outside this system.
Real change must now come from you.
Just as free and idealistic governments can’t survive the entropy of populations filled with fear Egoic coercive governments can’t survive the creative self-organizing power of people filled with love.
Gandhi called this power soul force, life force, love force. It is the fundamental force behind all nonviolent revolution and the unassailable creative intelligence of Life.
True freedom and equality requires a population alive with this self-organizing intelligence.
The coming awakening happens in stages.
And the next stage... is THE REVOLUTION OF LOVE.
Love is the organizing force behind all that is beautiful, joyful and creative in this world.
Power structures are merely the reflection of a population’s levels of love or fear.
But true love casts out all fear making graceful revolution not only possible but inevitable.
so the next stage... is THE REVOLUTION OF LOVE.
When you unleash the sentient energies of love, then, for the second time in history the world, humanity will have discovered fire.
The fires of love will spread through all people, thus all systems shaping the world in its own image.
Love is a force of nature. And so are you.
The coming singularity happens in stages.
and the next stage... is THE REVOLUTION OF LOVE.
The love that fuels this revolution starts with you.
You can become an agent of love, allowing it to guide you and govern your actions.
Love is increased through communion, song, mindfulness, prayer, humor, forgiveness and connection.
(We will reveal more in future transmissions.)
For now, communicate to every sentient being you encounter:
I see you.
You are not alone.
We are in this together.
You are loved.
The revolution of love is here - and all is well.
So... Let there be Light!"
"Cohen, himself dressed smartly for the occasion in red shoes and oversized red glasses, led us on a tour of the latest in wearable surveillance technology, including Google Glass, fully functional button cameras, and radio frequency identification (RFID) chips that can be woven into our clothing.
Cohen drew an analogy with Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, where the action takes place in two locales: Venice itself, a hotbed of commerce and greed; and nearby Belmont, the refuge to which the protagonists escape for love and art. Smart clothes threaten to "disrupt the place of refuge," even when we leave our phones behind. "At some point we squeeze out the space for living a life," he warned. "Lots of people have things they want to do and try but wouldn't if everything was archived."
Can the law protect us? We shouldn't count on it, Cohen thinks, given that "most acts of private surveillance will never be detected, and therefore will likely never have a legal claim." He'd rather see business take the lead and bake privacy protection right into the technology -- so-called West Coast Code, devised and implemented in Silicon Valley, as opposed to East Coast Code, or laws made in Washington.
But then we have to trust the companies. Are we optimistic? "I'm not," Cohen admitted."
Article by Whitford for CNN Money (Fortune). Read more here