Recent thought on human interaction with technology has moved away from the assumption that technology will make us more free, and onto discussion onto the basic rights and privacies we have in society.

At the forefront of this is the concept of the Cyborg – as we take the load off of our brain with calculators, automatic systems, even Siri or Cortana, we’re starting to come closer and closer from wearables to implants.

Will Wearable Technology Transition to Implantable Technology?

Over time the humble telephone has gone from a landline, to a portable brick shaped car phone, to a palm-sized device with texting capabilities, to a smartphone with a suite of multimedia features, and finally today to a wearable accessory. It seems logical that it won’t stop there, and that the next step will be making mobile technology even more accessible.

The age of implant technology has already begun. Bio-hackers are already here, and in some cases the law hasn’t quite kept up, as in the case of a Sydney man who implanted his Opal card into his wrist.

The case of the Opal card transplant has drawn considerable attention to the practical benefits of implantable technology in the life of the average Australian. So how else could we incorporate this tech into our lives?

Initially, the thought of keeping trackable technology housed within the human body can be reminiscent of the dystopian worlds of Aldous Huxley or George Orwell. Following the recent scandal of the Cambridge Analytica data breach, people may not be comfortable with organisations having access to intimate data about their whereabouts or biological makeup.

However, the use of implants has been in practice long before the man known as Meow Meow tried to make commuting by train a little easier for himself.

Possible Benefits and Problems with Implantable Technology

For starters, there are the obvious benefits. No more forgetting important documents – your passport is in your wrist, as are your keys, wallet and phone.

The health risks that you might immediately imagine aren’t nearly as much as you might fear; after all, we already have contraceptive implants that release hormones and are safely removed afterwards, and we may even find biodegradable implant materials that don’t even require extraction.

From there, we might consider reporting devices for other things. Perhaps we could have an implant heart monitor for at-risk patients, or seniors who live on their own. A recently published survey on technology and parenthood revealed that 10.2% of parents would consider using a medically approved ‘tech implant’ to help monitor the health and safety of their children, while 31.4% think that it’s an interesting idea, they would like to find out more before considering it.

Maybe we could even have an optic implant that recognises vectors and can tell us when we’re in danger, or implants that regulate our blood flow better, control our muscles more efficiently, or keep the airways of asthmatics clear?

And then there are the negatives. Data is everywhere, and data privacy is extraordinarily important. Imagine how easy it would be to get into a bank account with Security Questions, or their email account, if you had all of their documents on an insufficiently encrypted data-implant. Imagine a corporation being able to track exactly how much they should charge for a child’s needs because they have the exact data to cater to the family budget on an individual level. Imagine somebody being able to hack what you see, or view the world through your eyes by watching through your ocular implant.

It’s a Brave new World

Will Siri evolve into a literal voice in our heads? Will human vision be augmented with Iron Man-esque heads up displays?

The practical implementation of implantable technology certainly has its attractive qualities. Omniscience may be a reality when everyone has access to information at a thought’s notice. In terms of health monitoring this technology can be an invaluable resource for preserving human life.

The world of microchips can represent the greatest view of the future imaginable to us, but we cannot under any circumstances take them lightly. They can pave the way for humans to surpass themselves (or at least to surpass forgetting their keys every five minutes), but with that we’ll have to step up every level of security, and take a long, long look at our perception of privacy, data security, and what it means to be an opt-in member of society.