Microchipping Employees: Why or Why Not?

Microchipping Employees: Why or Why Not?

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Facilitator: SFIS Professor Katina Michael

Description: Recently companies internationally are considering implanting their employees with microchips to improve security which has naturally raised some public concerns about the risks, barriers and future uses of micro-chipping. Could companies sell employees' personal data to third parties? Could employers know if staff contacted a competitor about a job? Join us for an informal conversation to tease out the main issues that we see from an STS lens on implanting employees in the workplace.

Readings for Discussion: Christine Perakslis, Katina Michael, M. G. Michael, Robert Gable, "Perceived barriers for implanting microchips in humans", 2014 IEEE Conference on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century (21CW), Date of Conference: 24-26 June 2014, Date Added to IEEE Xplore: 08 September 2014. DOI: 10.1109/NORBERT.2014.6893929

"Microchipping Employees and Potential Workplace Surveillance"

"A Wisconsin company offers to implant remote-control microchips in its employees" (2018)

Interview with Gary Retherford of CityWatcher.com (2009)

http://www.securitysystemsnews.com/article/security-company-gets-under-skin-embedded-access-chips (2006)

Bio: Katina Michael has been studying embedded technologies in humans for over 20 years. She has a joint appointment in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the School of Computing, Informatics and Decisions Systems Engineering. Katina is the founding editor in chief of IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society. Find out more at www.katinamichael.com

IEEE Sections Congress 2017 - Rights and Wrongs of Implantables

Initially, I was given the brief to speak on a topic titled "The Rights and Wrongs of Implantables". What is right and what is wrong is not for me to decide- I can simply speak about the pros and cons of implantables from my 20 years of researching in this space. 

Our panel represents diverse issues of the Society on the Social Implications of Technology. Please consider joining us as a member at IEEE.

IEEE Sections Congress, Sydney, Australia

John Lewis, Katina Michael, Narelle Clarke, 25 minutes

Aim: To demonstrate how SSIT helps avoid technology failures by identifying challenges in emerging technologies before they happen.

Katina: The rights and wrongs of implantables

John: Social challenges of health informatics [*John was unable to make it due to illness]

Narelle: Keeping a customer focus

Are People Really Being Microchipped?

The microchipping of people is not a new phenomenon. Heart pacemakers have been around since the late 1950s. But implantable devices, for humancentric use, entered the technology landscape in 1997 when Eduardo Kac performed his bioethics art piece, ”Time Capsule”.  Since then, thousands of people have embarked on implantable devices, with convenience as the chief motivator. In 2003, the Verichip Company formed and in response to September 11, launched a suite of applications that required a small radio frequency identification (RFID) device to be implanted in the right tricep.  These products are now marketed not only to those interested in body modification, but also to corporates. That people are being microchipped voluntarily is a reality, especially for those who believe in human augmentation as a means of evolution.  This talk will introduce global conversations regarding the use, and a wider diffusion of, embedded implantable systems and participants will have an opportunity to share their ideas on the topic.

More here

What a wonderful afternoon spent at the North Kiama Neighbourhood Centre with the U3A folk in the Kiama Municipality. I was so encouraged to see so many community members turn out. Every seat in the room was taken and the contributions to the interactive discussion were insightful, wise and holistic. U3A at Kiama you are to be commended for such excellent organisation, participation, and ongoing support.

Unsurprisingly, this was one of the most informed audiences I've had the pleasure of delivering a talk to- astute on ethics speak, great questions,  and all round knowledgeable contributions.

Thank you all for your active participation, for the gift, and for the invitation.

Repurposing Medical Implants: from Therapeutics to Augmentation

Public Information Session – Wearable Sensing Technologies: What we have and where we are going! Panelists: Gordon Wallace @UOW, Joseph Wang @USC, Katina Michael @UOW

Event: Wearable and Implantable Sensors Workshop, Friday 19 August 2016, Leon Kane-Maguire Theatre, AIIM Facility, Innovation Campus, North Wollongong.

Draft program here

Title: Repurposing Medical Implants from Therapeutics to Augmentation: the money is where the market is

Abstract: For over 55 years we have witnessed the development of heart pacemakers [1]. Incremental innovations have meant that this product technology has advanced as the industry surrounding it has created better componentry and connectivity. Once we considered the application of implantables for those who only desperately required it for life sustaining purposes, often as a last resort. Today, however, the emphasis is shifting from a restorative need to replace a human function that has been lost or degraded, to one that is preventative and takes on a guise of human augmentation. In all we are witnessing the rise of persuasive computing- that which not only acts as a tool or media, but also as a mechanism to change attitudes and behaviours of social actors through direct interaction or through a mediating role. For example, companies like Medtronics wish to implant sensors in everyone [2]. Their belief is to take the medical technology to the whole market, relying on a medical platform for non-medical control, care and convenience applications. The question is not whether we can achieve this technically, but whether answers to questions about ethics, culture and society can keep pace with rapid scientific advancements [3].


[1] Catherine M. Banbury, 1997, Surviving Technological Innovation in the Pacemaker Industry, 1959-1990, Garland Publishing, Inc. New York.

[2] Eliza Strickland, 2014, Medtronic Wants to Implant Sensors in Everyone, IEEE Spectrum, http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/devices/medtronic-wants-to-implant-sensors-in-everyone

[3] Roger Achille, Christine Perakslis, Katina Michael, 2013, “Ethical Issues to consider for Microchip Implants in Humans”, 7th International Conference on Ethical Issues In Biomedical Engineering, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, New York.

Panelist 1: Professor Gordon Wallace

Is involved in the design and discovery of new materials for use in Energy and Health. In the Health area this involves using new materials to develop biocommunications from the molecular to skeletal domains in order to improve human performance via medical Bionics. In the Energy area this involves use of new materials to transform and to store energy, including novel wearable and implantable energy systems for the use in Medical Bionics. He is committed to the translation of fundamental discoveries into practical applications. He is a passionate communicator, dedicated to explaining scientific advances to all in the community from the lay person to the specialist. Gordon was recently appointed to the Prime Ministers Knowledge Nation 100. Gordon is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), Institute of Physics, and Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI). He has published more than 800 refereed publications; a monograph (3rd Edition published in 2009) on Conductive Electroactive Polymers: Intelligent Polymer Systems and co-authored a monograph on Organic Bionics (published 2012). He has recently co-authored an eBook on 3D BioPrinting He led the presentation of a MOOC on 3D Bioprinting on the FutureLearn platform. Gordon has supervised almost 100 PhD students to completion and has mentored more than 50 research fellows. Gordon completed his undergraduate (1979) and PhD (1983) degrees at Deakin University and was awarded a DSc from Deakin University in 2000. He was appointed as a Professor at the University of Wollongong in 1990. He was awarded an ARC Professorial Fellowship in 2002; an ARC Federation Fellowship in 2006 and ARC Laureate Fellowship in 2011.

Panelist 2: Joseph Wang

Joseph Wang is a Distinguished Professor and Chair of Nanoengineering at University of California San Diego (UCSD) and the Director of the Center for Wearable Sensors (CWS) of the Jacobs School of Engineering. Before joining UCSD in 2008 he held Regents Professor and Manasse Chair positions at NMSU and served as the Director of the Center for Bioelectronics and Biosensors (at the ASU Biodesign Institute). Wang is also a Honorary Professor from 6 different universities and the recipient of two National American Society Awards for Electrochemistry and Instrumentation. He was the recipient of the 1994 Heyrovsky Memorial Medal (of the Czech Republic), the 2012 Breyer Medal (Royal Australian Chemistry Institute), and the 2013 Spiers Memorial Medal (Royal Society of Chemistry), for his major contributions to electrochemistry. He is also a RSC Fellow and AIMBE Fellow. Wang serves as the founding Chief Editor of the Wiley journal Electroanalysis and on the editorial board of 15 other journals. The research interests of Dr. Wang include the development of advanced nanomotors and nanoactuators, nanobioelectronics and electrochemical biosensors, wearable sensor systems, and advanced materials for biofuel cells. He has been the mentor of 25 Ph.D. candidates and 150 research associates. He has authored over 980 research papers, 11 books, 20 patents, and 35 chapters (H Index 111). He was ranked as the most cited electrochemist in the world in 1995, the ‘Most Cited Researcher in Engineering’ during 1995- 2005. Website: http://nanoengineering.ucsd.edu/~joewang/

Panelist 3: Katina Michael

Is a professor in the School of Computing and Information Technology in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences at the University of Wollongong. Katina has been the editor-in-chief of IEEE Technology & Society Magazine since 2012, a Senior Editor of IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine, and more recently an associate editor of Ethics and Practices of Biomedical Engineering. Katina also has served as a board member of the Australian Privacy Foundation since 2008, and has been a volunteer for the Consumer Federation of Australia since 2010. Her main research area is in the social implications of emerging technologies with a specific interest in implantables technologies for medical and non-medical applications in relation to socioethics and culture, privacy and security, risk and trust, law and regulation.