Privacy is dead and dying more each day…

#10 | Amazon reported that 100 million Alexa devices have been sold as of this writing. That’s great for Amazon but for you, maybe not so much. If you are concerned about your privacy then, its not good for you to have Alexa (and devices like it) in your home because it is almost always listening and recording everything going on. Doubt me? Tune in to this episode to learn why you should be concerned about Alexa and even more concerned about what Google has planned for your home. Its scary.   | Click here for information on protecting your privacy on Facebook.  And please support my Starbucks habit by dropping something in my virtual tip jar. Thank you.


Click here to listen to this podcast on Anchor.fm

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About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

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 PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

Happy New Year! I hope 2019 brings you every positive thing you hope for and more. I also hope it brings you more privacy. A recent report from Reuters cites how a user of Amazon’s Alexa got access to a thousand recordings from another user because of a [quote] “human error” by the company. [end quote] Among the recordings, a man and a female companion could be… overheard and due to the data that was accidentally released, the man and woman on the recordings were able to be identified and contacted.

When I read that story, my immediate reaction was why where there so many recordings available to be found in the first place? And if they were revealed by human error, how many more recordings are out there and for what purpose are they being saved? I’ll give you the answer and give you something more to worry about, after this message.

To fully understand the privacy of Facebook and how it’s likely to evolve, you need to understand one thing…Facebook executives want everyone to be public. As the service evolves, executives tend to favor our open access to information, meaning information you think is private will slowly become public, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be private if you want to. Facebook gives its users the option to lock things down, but users need to be aware of their controls, how to use them and how to prepare for future Facebook privacy changes. Facebook has not and will not make information obvious, and that’s where my special offer comes in. Go to JimStroud.com/free and download “The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual.” That’s JimStroud.com/free to download your free copy of “The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual.” One last time, download it now at JimStroud.com/free Operators are standing by.

For Alexa and Google Home to work, they have to listen out for specific “wake words.” In the case of Google Home, its “OK Google” and for Alexa, its “Alexa.” So, of course, they have to listen constantly in order to be of service. As far as all those recorded messages that Alexa tracks, Amazon uses it to educate its artificial intelligence systems so that they will better understand us humans when we make our requests. Google does the same thing with Google Home. If you are uncomfortable with listening devices perpetually recording your daily life, you will be very disturbed by what I am about to share with you now.

Google has recently filed two patents that will make it extremely easy for them to eavesdrop on your home activity, surveil your way of life and generate a TON of money by selling that data to third-parties. How? Well, let’s explore the possibilities with patent #1 entitled – “Privacy-aware personalized content for the smart home”

Imagine this, a Google device scans and analyzes the objects in your home and then offers you content based on what it finds. For example, a smart camera could recognize Will Smith’s face on a T-shirt on the floor of your closet. It then looks at your browser history and detects that you follow Will Smith’s YouTube channel and watched some of his videos recently. After analyzing all that, the system would say to you, “Hey, you seem to life Will Smith. His new movie is playing in a theater near you. Would you like the show times?”

Now, let’s look even deeper into this patent. Using object recognition, Google could calculate your “fashion taste” by scanning your clothing, and even estimate your income based on any “expensive mechanical and/or electronic devices” it detects. Once it gets used to voices typically in your home, it could determine the genders and age of the people who live with you. From all that data, the Google device could recommend what to watch on TV, what movies to see and where to shop, not only for you but for every person who lives in your house. Wow. How about that?

Let’s switch gears a bit and look now at patent #2, which has a long, but ominous title to it, “Smart Home Automation System that suggests or automatically implements selected household policies based on sensed observations.”

The second patent proposes a smart-home system that will help raise your kids for you (and I’m only slightly exaggerating). Parents could program a device to note if it overhears “foul language” from children, scan internet usage for mature or objectionable content, or use “occupancy sensors” to determine if certain areas of the house are accessed while they’re gone— for example, the liquor cabinet. The system could be set to “change a smart lighting system color to red and flash the lights” as a warning to children or even power off lights and devices if the children are grounded.

Language from both patents reveals just how intuitive these smart devices are, as they listen to the noises you make as you move around your house. For example, Google’s smart-home system can figure out “if a household member is working” from the sound of a keyboard clicking, a desk chair moving, and papers shuffling in the room. Google can also figure out the mood you’re in based on the sound of your voice. It can tell when you’re in the kitchen based on the sound of the refrigerator door opening. It can even estimate your dental hygiene based on “the sounds and/or images of teeth brushing.” Wow. Again, I say, wow.

Alexa, Google Home and Facebook’s new “Portal” device (which is a video phone that follows you around the room) all those things are great and a convenience for what they do; but, is the convenience of these devices worth what we are losing in terms of privacy? It seems like every other day I hear how hackers have stolen data from millions of users. It makes me wonder how much, if at all, I can trust big tech companies to keep my information private. If my web data is not secure, why would I want to make even more intimate data accessible via smart devices like Alexa or these new patented inventions that Google just filed? And, I know I’m not the only one to feel this way which is why, I’m going to make a prediction. In 2019, people will begin choosing privacy over convenience by choosing to buy gadgets that do not connect to the internet; which is not much of a prediction because its already happening in the mobile phone market.

In August 2018, it was reported by Daily Mail that while global sales of smartphones increased by just 2 percent however, sales of ‘dumb phones’ rose by 5 percent. Dumb phones are just what you expect them to be, devices that can only send and receive phonecalls (and in some cases, send and receive text messages). You can buy one for $20, which is what the Alcatel 10.66G retails for or you can go high-end and spend $400 for a Light Phone 2.

In the age of big tech, privacy is dead. I think we forget that because we are so addicted to technology. I think I’m going to remind us every now and then with special podcast episodes like this one. Yeah, I think that’s a good idea.

If you love what you heard, hate what you heard or, don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can reach me at my website – www.JimStroud.com. In addition to finding source material and related information for this podcast episode, you’ll find other goodies that I hope will make you smile. Oh, before I go, please financially support this podcast with a little somethin’-somethin’ in my virtual tip jar. (There’s a link in the podcast description.) Your generosity encourages me to keep this podcast train chugging down the track. Whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot…

Santa Claus & The Free Gift of Universal Basic Income

#9 | The Christmas season is upon us which means, among other things, Santa Claus will be delivering toys and gifts to all the good little boys and girls around the world. Free gifts are one of the reasons why Christmas is so deeply appreciated by the masses. Can you imagine if Christmas was more than once a year? What if it once a month and all year round people were receiving free gifts in the mail; specifically, a check for $500. Sound nice? Well, its about to happen in Stockton, CA. The free gift is called “Universal Basic Income” and I think it’s a bad idea. Tune into my podcast to find out why.  Please support my Starbucks habit (and support this podcast) by dropping a tip in my virtual jar. Thank you in advance.


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About the podcast:

The Jim Stroud Podcast explores the future of life itself by examining emerging technology,  the changing world of work, cultural trends and everything in between.

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

Subscribe now!

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

The Christmas season is upon us which means, among other things, Santa Claus will be delivering toys and gifts to all the good little boys and girls around the world. Free gifts are one of the reasons why Christmas is so deeply appreciated by the masses. Can you imagine if Christmas was more than once a year? What if it once a month and all year round people were receiving free gifts in the mail; specifically, a check for $500. Sound nice? Well, its about to happen in Stockton, CA. The free gift is called “Universal Basic Income” and I think it’s a bad idea. I’ll tell you why after this…

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Universal Basic Income is loosely defined as free money from the government without having to meet any requirements. The intent of Universal Basic Income is to help people on the verge of poverty or, to help people who are already in poverty, to get by. Its not a new idea. The concept was first explored in the 15th century by the author Thomas Moore, who after witnessing how capital punishment failed to keep people from stealing, said in his book – Utopia, the following…

“…Instead of inflicting these horrible punishments, it would be far more to the point to provide everyone with some means of livelihood, so that nobody’s under the frightful necessity of becoming, first a thief, and then a corpse.”

Universal Basic Income has been in and out of vogue ever since. In fact, in 1969, President Nixon lobbied for a type of Universal Basic Income when he pushed the “Family Assistance Plan” which eventually died in the Senate. Now, I’m not sure, but I think President Nixon’s inspiration came from another public figure – the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have the utmost respect for the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and have a deep appreciation for his life’s work. However, on this issue, I must disagree with him. Universal Basic Income has actually been tried in Finland and it failed. Let me share with you some quotes from the Business Insider article – “Finland is killing its world-famous basic income experiment.”

Since the beginning of last year, 2000 Finns are getting money from the government each month – and they are not expected to do anything in return. The participants, aged 25–58, are all unemployed, and were selected at random by Kela, Finland’s social-security institution. Instead of unemployment benefits, the participants now receive €560, or $690, per month, tax free. Should they find a job during the two-year trial, they still get to keep the money. While the project is praised internationally for being at the cutting edge of social welfare, back in Finland, decision makers are quietly pulling the brakes, making a U-turn that is taking the project in a whole new direction.

The Universal Basic Income experiment in Finland began in 2017, ended in 2018 with results to be published in 2019. So, what spurred on this experiment in the first place? Here’s another quote from the same Business Insider article.

“The existing unemployment benefits were so high, the Finnish government argued, and the system so rigid, an unemployed person might choose not to take a job as they would risk losing money by doing so – the higher your earnings, the lower your social benefits. The basic income was meant as an incentive for people to start working.

But in December last year, the Finnish parliament passed a bill that is taking the country’s welfare system in quite the opposite direction. The new ’activation model’ law requires jobseekers to work a minimum of 18 hours for three months – if you don’t manage to find such a job, you lose some of your benefits.

The reason for the turnaround in Finland is simple, the working population of Finland did not like the idea of giving away tax money to people capable of working, without requiring people to earn it. The news of the failed experiment did not reach Stockton, CA obviously. Nor was it brought to the attention of US Senator Kamala Harris or US Senator Cory Booker, who are now considering programs along the lines of universal basic income. That being said, and just to be fair, allow me to share with you some arguments people have made over the years for, and against, universal basic income. First, some of the pros…

• Universal Basic Income would be a security net for the millions of people who will be left jobless by the tech revolution. Research shows that the longer you are unemployed, the longer it takes to find employment. If the jobless had a small source of income to help them back on their feet, they could find new jobs and start contributing to the economy sooner.

• There are lots and lots and lots of government organisations responsible for helping those in poverty, handing out unemployment benefits, food stamps, subsidised housing, etc. Universal Basic Income would replace all of those programs and thus, significantly cut a country’s spending.

• Universal Basic Income would discourage low wages by giving employees bargaining power. After all, why work for $7.25 an hour when you have a guaranteed monthly income paying so much more?”

• Universal Basic Income would end extreme financial poverty and enable people to stay in school longer and participate in training to improve skills or learn a trade.

Considering those reasons, it would seem that universal basic income is the way to go. If you think that, take a moment to ponder the arguments against. Here are just a few…

• A universal basic income program would likely come from programs that already fight poverty like food stamps and child assistance programs. So, in effect, UBI would be taking money from the poorest people and spreading it to all citizens (even those who don’t need it). Wouldn’t that increase poverty and inequality rather than reduce them?”

• Giving people a guarantee of money, each month will not incentivize them to work or necessarily improve their lives for the long-term. President Barack Obama addressed this issue in a 2011 Townhall address. He said,   “I think we should acknowledge that some welfare programs in the past were not well designed and in some cases did encourage dependency.… As somebody who worked in low-income neighborhoods, I’ve seen it where people weren’t encouraged to work, weren’t encouraged to upgrade their skills, were just getting a check, and over time their motivation started to diminish. And I think even if you’re progressive you’ve got to acknowledge that some of these things have not been well designed.”  

• In 2016, Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to introduce a guaranteed basic income for all. The reasons why they rejected it? Well, according to BBC News – “Critics of the measure said that disconnecting the link between work done and money earned would have been bad for society.” (For the record, I agree with that.) They also said, if you give away free Swiss money to everybody, you would have billions of people trying to move into Switzerland.” The general thought they had was, free money would make people lazy, devalue work and (most importantly) where would all this free money come from? Eventually, it would run out and people would no doubt rebel. That is, unless, Santa Claus is real. And if Santa Claus is indeed real, then, universal basic income is a great idea.

Of course, this is just one man’s opinion. I want to hear yours. Feel free to email me, my email address is… {protected]. I will read your comments over the holidays and get back to you with my response on January 6, 2019 when I return with a new podcast episode. Be sure to subscribe to my blog – JimStroud.com and do that now, so you don’t miss out on all the cool stuff being planned for 2019. Cool? Cool. So, okay, until next time, Merry Christmas! And a Happy New year.

 

What happens when designer babies enter the workplace?

#8 | A scientist named – He Jianku claims to have created the world’s first genetically edited babies. Shortly after the announcement was made, He Jianku disappeared to parts unknown. (Insert dramatic music here.) If what He claims is true, not only is this a major scientific breakthrough disrupting the scientific community – forever; its also a major headache for the HR department. Tune in to this episode to find out why. Please support my Starbucks habit (and support this podcast) by dropping a tip in my virtual jar. Thank you in advance. 


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HiringSolved

About the podcast:

The Jim Stroud Podcast explores the future of life itself by examining emerging technology,  the changing world of work, cultural trends and everything in between.

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

Subscribe now!

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

On Nov. 28, He Jianku — a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford — announced to hundreds of scientists, colleagues and journalists that he had created the world’s first genetically edited babies: twin girls with the pseudonyms Lulu and Nana whose DNA he claims to have altered to make them HIV-resistant. Though not verified, He’s work has been met with international outcry. Many consider such work to be an unethical violation of scientific norms and, amid conflicting reports about his current whereabouts, He Jianku (john-koo) has not been heard from since he made that announcement. (At least, not at the point of this recording.) I find all of this fascinating. Not only do I see the scientific community and society at large, changed irrevocably by this technological breakthrough, I foresee major headaches for the HR department. Why? I’ll let you know after this special message.

Ring-ring.

JIM: Oh! Sorry, everyone. One second… Jim Stroud.

CALLER: Hey Jim, I have to postpone our lunch meeting. I’m searching for the perfect candidate and my ATS is not making it easy.

JIM: Well, that doesn’t sound like fun. What about your CRM?

CALLER: Don’t get me started.

JIM: How many times have you had the perfect resume in hand and wished you could find more people just like them?

CALLER: Everyday.

JIM: You know what you need, right? You need a system that learns from you and suggests the right candidates at the right time.

CALLER: It doesn’t exist.

JIM: Oh, yes it does, and its name is HiringSolved.

CALLER: HiringSolved?

JIM: Yes, HiringSolvedHiringSolved is a tool that uses AI and Machine Learning to automate candidate matching, increase diversity, reduce time to fill, analyze the social web, and unlock the power of your ATS, CRM, and HRIS data.

CALLER: Interesting. Can you tell me more?

JIM: I would like to but, I’m about to do a podcast. I tell you what, check out their website at www.hiringsolved.com

CALLER: www.h-i-r-i-n-g-s-o-l-v-e-d.com

JIM: That’s right! www.HiringSolved.com. Go look at it now and I’ll call you back after the podcast.

CALLER: Okay, bye.

JIM: Sorry about that guys. Now, where was I?

Have you seen the movie Gattaca? It was out in the late 90’s, here’s a clip…. (Play the first few seconds of the movie trailer, maybe up to 1:23) In the movie Gattaca  Vincent Freeman (played by Ethan Hawke) has always fantasized about traveling into outer space, but is grounded by his genetically inferior  status. He decides to fight his fate by purchasing the genes of Jerome Morrow (Jude Law),  who has been determined to be genetically superior. Viincent assumes Jerome’s DNA identity and joins the Gattaca space program, where he falls in love with Irene (played by Uma Thurman). An investigation into the death of a Gattaca officer complicates Vincent’s plans. It’s a good movie with lots of suspense and intrigue. I recommend it.

As I said earlier, He Jianku’s research is not verified so, nobody knows for sure if he really did create the world’s first genetically edited babies resistant to HIV; but, I don’t think its too far-fetched to believe. In 2017, scientists in the United States successfully corrected a disease causing mutation by altering the genetic structure of a human embryo. Which mean, genes that carry certain diseases would not be passed on to “newborns.”

Now if you do a search on “designer babies” you will find a lot, and I do mean a LOT, of articles discussing the ethics of the science. Some people say that designing babies is a good thing while others poo-poo the idea. Here is a breakdown of the pros and the cons. First, the pros…

Designing babies would mean that you not only reduce the risk of genetic diseases but you also stop diseases from being passed on to future generations. Because you can enhance intelligence through this process (at least, from what I’ve read), there’s a better chance the child will succeed in life. One could also give their child genes that neither of the parents carry; for example… musical and dance giftings. Your child could be the next Beyonce; despite the fact that you and your spouse struggle with karaoke. And the biggest plus to designing children, I suppose, would be a better understanding of how genetics increase life span. Does that mean immortality? I doubt it. But it might mean that the average person may one day live to be 100 years old.

And now, the arguments against designing children…

As heartless as it may sound to some, I can foresee many pregnancies terminated simply because the genetic recipe was flawed in some way. The hair isn’t blonde enough. The IQ is not high enough and it must be optimum if the child is to compete in modern society.  Geneticists are not perfect. Maybe getting rid of one disease, sparks the genesis of another one that is even more deadly and because its so new, there is no way to treat it. Before you know it, we are surrounded by zombies from “The Walking Dead” and I’m only way halfway kidding.

In the rush to make perfect children, I can see us forgetting the children who have no say in how their genes are manipulated. Maybe they discover they have talents that they do not desire and decide to rebel against their parents and in the case of being a musical genius, refuse to sing; no matter how much their parents implore them. Maybe they would feel the loss of individuality and be stuck in a sort of limbo; somewhere between discovering what they want to do with their lives and what their parents designed them to be.

And if that is not enough, there are the issues the Human Resources department will have to face.

What are the ramifications of employing adults who were once designer babies? On the plus side, companies that focus on hiring “designer babies” can brag that they offer exorbitant healthcare benefits because it is unlikely certain diseases and conditions would even occur with designer babies; since those conditions were likely screened out at birth. Designer babies would tend to have IQs higher than the national average due to their genetic enhancements so companies who hire them would likely be more efficient, productive and innovative. Designer babies would be better educated and have lots of business contacts as they tend to come from wealthy families that can afford designer baby enhancements. With all of these advantages, its no wonder companies hire as many designer babies as they can find and do all they can to retain them. But isn’t that discriminatory to natural born humans?

What happens when natural born humans figure out why they are not being considered for high-paying jobs, at the same rate, as these designer babies?  Will they protest and file lawsuits against the company? If they do, how will that affect the employer brand of the company? As expensive as it would be, at least in the onset, to have designer children, most of the hiring population would be natural born humans. This means that no matter how many designer babies you hire, its likely the majority of the people you hire will be natural born and they won’t want to work for a company who denies them upward mobility.

As such, HR department, you have a massive recruiting problem which in turn, is a massive bottom line problem because if your employment brand is bad, it only stands to reason that the consumer side will follow. 

So, for the record, I am against genetic manipulation for the sake of making “perfect” children. I think the ethics prohibit us from going down this path and would encourage things like killing offspring with Down Syndrome; they do that in Iceland, you know.  And who can say how all of the genetic manipulation will affect future offspring? What happens when a designer baby mates with another designer baby? What happens when a designer baby mates with a natural human? What happens when two people have children naturally but one of them or both, have a designer baby in their lineage? Nobody knows now, but thanks to scientists like, He Jianku, we will in the future, for better or worse.

A Future Talk on Careers with Dr. Tracey Wilen

NOTE: I’m thinking of doing a podcast where I interview interesting people about the future of work, life and everything in between. Consider this to be the pilot episode. If I do more of these, it will be because of the comments and encouragement of my listeners. So, please do share your thoughts.

A podcast about the future of everything.

My guest in the premiere episode of “Future Talk” (working title) is Dr. Tracey Wilen.  We discuss the career confusion of mature workers and millennials  seeking to progress in their career, how to figure out a career path in this constantly changing technological landscape,  what to do when you don’t know what to do next in your career and more. Get a pad and pencil (or have you texting finger ready) to take notes as lots and lots and lots of strategies are suggested herein.


Click here to listen to this podcast on Anchor.fm

ABOUT MY GUEST

Dr. Tracey WilenDr. Tracey Wilen is a researcher and speaker on the impact of technology on society, work, and careers. A former visiting scholar at Stanford University, she has held leadership positions at Apple, HP, and Cisco Systems. She was an adjunct professor for Bay area colleges teaching classes in business, technology and women’s workforce topics.Dr. Wilen was named San Francisco Woman of the Year (WOW) and honored by the San Francisco Business Times as the most Influential Woman in Bay Area Business. She is a finalist for 2018 Women Advocate of the Year for Women in Technology(WIT). Dr. Wilen has authored 13 books, her newest book is Career Confusion: 21st Century Career Management in a Disrupted World (2018) a companion book to Digital Disruption; The Future of Work, Skills, Leadership, Education and Careers in a Digital World (2018). Available for order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

To contact Dr. Tracey Wilen:

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Microchipping Employees is a No-good, Horrible and Terrible Idea

#7 | A Wisconsin company made it possible for their workers to throw away their employee ID cards, forget all their passwords, make copies and get food from a vending machine in a surprisingly convenient way. The magic solution? A small medical procedure actually – employees were given a choice to receive a tiny microchip under their skin. Its called “microchipping” and its a no-good, horrible and terrible idea.  I explain why, in detail, in this episode. Listen in and be sure to subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode.


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Special thanks to our sponsor:HiringSolved

About the podcast:

The Jim Stroud Podcast explores the future of life itself by examining emerging technology,  the changing world of work, cultural trends and everything in between.

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

Subscribe now!

 PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

A Wisconsin company made it possible for their workers to throw away their employee ID cards, forget all their passwords, make copies and get food from a vending machine in a surprisingly convenient way. The magic solution? A small medical procedure actually – employees were given a choice to receive a tiny microchip under their skin.

The company’s name is Three Square Market and 50 of their 80 employees volunteered to be microchipped preferring convenience over privacy concerns and so far, there have been no complaints. So, is microchipping employees a good thing? I say no! And I will list reasons why companies should avoid this practice like the plague, after this word from our sponsor.

Ring-ring.

JIM: Oh! Sorry, everyone. One second… Jim Stroud.

CALLER: Hey Jim, I have to postpone our lunch meeting. I’m searching for the perfect candidate and my ATS is not making it easy.

JIM: Well, that doesn’t sound like fun. What about your CRM?

CALLER: Don’t get me started.

JIM: How many times have you had the perfect resume in hand and wished you could find more people just like them?

CALLER: Everyday.

JIM: You know what you need, right? You need a system that learns from you and suggests the right candidates at the right time.

CALLER: It doesn’t exist.

JIM: Oh, yes it does, and its name is HiringSolved.

CALLER: HiringSolved?

JIM: Yes, HiringSolved. HiringSolved is a tool that uses AI and Machine Learning to automate candidate matching, increase diversity, reduce time to fill, analyze the social web, and unlock the power of your ATS, CRM, and HRIS data.

CALLER: Interesting. Can you tell me more?

JIM: I would like to but, I’m about to do a podcast. I tell you what, check out their website at www.hiringsolved.com

CALLER: www.h-i-r-i-n-g-s-o-l-v-e-d.com

JIM: That’s right! www.HiringSolved.com. Go look at it now and I’ll call you back after the podcast.

CALLER: Okay, bye.

Sorry about that guys. Now, where was I?

Three Square Market is not the only company to use microchips on its employees; Epicenter which provides workspace for more than 300 digital companies in Stockholm, Sweden, has been implanting its employees and people who use its workspaces for years. A UK-based company called BioTeq has already given 150 UK workers implants and Biohax, a Sweden-based company is in discussion with several British legal and financial firms to get them on the cyborg bandwagon.

Obviously with this type of technology there are concerns but, some people who have been microchipped have dismissed them. Here are 2 quotes from a CNBC article.

QUOTE #1: – “The biggest benefit I think is convenience,” said Patrick Mesterton, co-founder and CEO of Epicenter. As a demonstration, he unlocks a door by merely waving near it. “It basically replaces a lot of things you have, other communication devices, whether it be credit cards or keys.” END QUOTE #1

And this is quote #2…

QUOTE: Sandra Haglof, 25, who works for Eventomatic, an events company that works with Epicenter, has had three piercings before, and her left hand barely shakes as Osterlund injects the small chip. “I want to be part of the future,” she laughs. END QUOTE

I could quote from several articles but the basic argument for microchipping employees is “convenience” and I’m sorry, that is not compelling enough for my endorsement of this procedure. I think the disadvantages far outweigh the benefits.  Let me count the ways…

  1. technology designed for one purpose may later be used for another. A microchip implanted today to allow for easy building access and payments could, in theory, be used later in more invasive ways: to track the length of employees’ bathroom or lunch breaks, for instance, without their consent or even their knowledge.
  2. …it opens the door to potential complications that could lead to lawsuits for the company. Think about personal privacy complaints; security lapses; workers’ compensation claims should the chips cause medical issues. Would employers be financially responsible if the chip affected an employee’s health? And what if that employee goes to another company that requires a microchip and that person gets sick some time later. Who is responsible for that health issue? The first company who microchipped them or the current one? And while that is tied up in court, will the employee recover or suffer until their demise?
  3. …religious accommodations should a company require chipping. Some Christians may see chipping as the “mark of the beast” discussed in the book of revelation and may reject the idea of working for your company on that basis alone.  Christianity is a major religion so, requiring microchipping could severely hamper your recruiting efforts.
  4. …what happens to the chip when an employee leaves? Who owns the data then? If it belongs to the company, what about any personal information that may have been collected during its use?  Would the employee have the right to restrict access to it once gone? Could that data be sold to a third party? …and of course, there are security concerns. Gary Davis is the Chief Consumer Security Evangelist for McAfee, is a computer security company based in Santa Clara, Calif. He said in a SHRM Online interview, QUOTE “I could see bad actors trying several techniques to attack the chip itself or the data that is transmitted to and from the chip.” END QUOTE He goes on to say…  QUOTE “The biggest risks [with RFID] are … eavesdropping, data corruption or modification, and interception attacks.” END QUOTE All of that to say, at present, its too easy to hack those things.

And even as I make my case against microchipping employees, I know there are still some who will do it anyway. Perhaps they will call me a luddite, someone who fears new and disruptive technologies. Trust me, I’m not. I can just see the big picture on this and it doesn’t bode well for a person’s individual privacy. The chance of exploitation is just too great and the argument of its more convenient is just not convincing. I mean, I could see someone arguing for microchipping employees the same way people have argued for driverless cars: the adoption of the technology could reduce accidents by minimising human error. Well, if microchipping employees can be shown to have substantial safety benefits, and the process of implanting (and removing) microchips can be undertaken in a safe, quick, painless and unobtrusive way – with proper measures to protect privacy – then I imagine a legal path to requiring the microchipping of employees being made.

Of course, all of this could be a moot issue because of State Senator Becky Harris who introduced Senate Bill 109 would make it a Class C felony to require someone to be implanted with a radio frequency identifier aka microchip. Its not a law yet. We’ll see how it goes.

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