We will all be Cybermen soon

Employee of the Month
I was reading the Guardian a couple of weeks ago, and I saw a news story I found repulsive and difficult to forget. It's a story about big companies dong something stomach churning, just because they can. They are requesting that employees get chipped, like a pet that is fond of escaping the yard. It's cybernetics, in fact, even if it is a particularly lame kind.

I think I would be cool with cybernetics if each person got to choose whether and to what extent they wanted to become a Cyberman, but that is not what is happening. The company the poor schlub works for requires the employee to be fitted with the implant. This is sci-fi of a disturbing kind, not just because it isn't voluntary, but also because they cybernetics isn’t a cool length of mono-filament wire, or a jack for a computer cable, but a glorified name badge or lanyard.

These are the very first steps, being taken toward a particular kind of dystopian future, and they are being taken now. In one of these systems, a tiny chip is implanted into the flesh between the thumb and forefinger, and the company offering to do this actually compares them to the chips you put in your pet. I think that says an awful lot about the employer-employee relationship. They pretty much see us as livestock, and have no qualms about tagging us. The highly questionable advantages claimed for the employee include unlocking doors and starting your car with a wave of their hand, and storing medical data. There is obviously nothing in this for the worker, and they are only doing it because their company tells them to, but what is in it for the firm? That’s what I can’t work out. How is this any more useful to them than just giving the employee a chip card and telling them to keep it with them at all times?


I have written, and am still writing a sci-fi series called Dark Galaxy that starts with Galaxy Dog, go buy it from Amazon.

The thing is that this costs money, so there must be some reason for the companies to be doing it. I just can’t think deviously and amorally enough to work out what it is. They say the goal is to improve security, but what the blazes does that mean? How does having your security pass implanted into your body, rather than hung round your neck or clipped to your breast pocket, make anything more secure. Why does the chip have to be implanted, rather than just housed in a plastic card? I guess it’s harder to forget your hand than a card on the commuter train when you are dog tired after a fourteen hour shift, but that seems a very slight advantage.

I’ll have to watch some dystopian future movies featuring messed-up, prison-like offices to try and work out what is going on here. I’m going to start with Gattaca and run the gamut until I reach Brazil. In the mean time, it has made me feel a little more sympathy for the Cybermen. The story is that they chose to replace their organic parts, piece by piece, but maybe it wasn’t such a free choice. Maybe it was a choice foisted on them by the companies they worked for. You know exploiters like Uber and McDonalds would prefer Cybermen to organic employees. With Cybermen, there is no threat of unionization at all, just perfectly flipped burgers every time. Their emotionless voices might not be as good at upselling, but that’s probably a price worth paying.