Thousands of people in Sweden have decided to insert microchips underneath their skin. These microchips can function as contactless credit cards, key cards and even railcards.
Once the chip is underneath their skin, there is no longer any need to worry about misplacing a bankcard or carrying a heavy wallet. But for many people, the idea of having a microchip in their body feels more dystopian than practical.
Some have suggested that Sweden's strong welfare state may be the reason for this recent trend. However, the factor behind why roughly 3,500 Swedes have had microchips implanted under their skin is more complex than you might expect. This phenomenon reflects Sweden's unique biohacking scene. If you look underneath the surface, Sweden's love affair with all things digital goes much deeper than this so-called 'microchip trend'.
Expects state that this trend reflects Swedes' love affair with "bio-hacking". Bio-Hacking refers to experiments in biomedicine including "wetware" hacking with biological materials, and transhumanism – the belief that the human race can evolve beyond its physical limitations through science and technology.
The Swedish government has also invested heavily in creating a digital economy, and Sweden's central bank has discussed issuing a new digital currency – the "e-krona". Sweden is one of the nations least likely to care about biblical concerns over implanted chips. So why are Swedes so happy to put microchips into their body? One theory is that Swedes are more prone to sharing their personal details because of the way the Swedish social security system is structured. This is all due to the Swedish people that have a deep belief in the positive potential of technology.
A belief in digital technology and a trust in its potential has strongly affected Swedish culture. So we get it Sweden, you are populated by futuristic cyberpunk badasses while most of us are still stuck with humdrum brass keys and overstuffed wallets that are filled with mostly coins. But without additional safeguards, and guarantees of online privacy, the microchipping fad may quickly become a digital security nightmare.