Monday, May 09, 2005, 10:17 AM

Authenticate the Identity, Trust the Entity

I have one additional thought (at least, to date) to add to the conversation Jamie Lewis et al on Trust. We should talk about authenticating (or assuring) identities and trusting entities. Identities are conceptual constructs. (See Xageroth's What is Identity?). One of the reasons I feel uncomfortable about using the word trust with an identity as the object is that it is difficult for me to have an emotional attachment to a conceptual construct. I might trust the entity that the identity represents because it is a human being. If authentication of the identity is done right, I might be comfortable with the strength of the identity; but, to paraphrase Xageroth, saying that I trust an identity, is like saying I trust liquidity or gravity.

Update (May 11, 2005):
I love the blogosphere! One slip of the mind, and others catch it. Xageroth pointed out that all we ever really trust are conceptual constructs (if we get philosophical). I agree. I need to pick my words/concepts more clearly. Let me rephrase the following ...
Identities are conceptual constructs. One of the reasons I feel uncomfortable about using the word trust with an identity as the object is that it is difficult for me to have an emotional attachment to a conceptual construct.
I should have avoided using the term "conceptual construct" -- everything's a conceptual construct -- so, obviously, there are some conceptual constructs that I trust (i.e. entities). I should have said something like
Identities are like name tags or telephone numbers. I might trust the people who issued the name tags or the phone numbers (identity providers); I might trust that when I dial the phone number that it will ring the right phone (strength of authentication); and, I might also trust the person I'm talking to with the name tag or at the other end of the phone -- but, it doesn't make much sense for me to say that I trust the name tag or the telephone number.
Hope that makes it clearer... Maybe the term I'm looking for is inanimate object... It doesn't make sense to trust an inanimate object. An identity is akin to an inanimate object.

PS. I don't mean to nitpick here, but I don't think of Yoda as an identity. I think of Yoda as an entity. (I think that even works from an English symantics point of view.)

2 Comment(s):

Blogger Xageroth Sekarius said...

Hmm.. I don't know that I would make that distinction and I have a hard time believing its true when you say "it is difficult for me to have an emotional attachment to a conceptual construct" because many have emotional attachment to Yoda (Episode III! woo!), an identity which exists purely as a fantasy.

I almost want to say that the opposite is true where we place trust more in the space of perception than physical reality. It makes more sense in circumstances when an entity begins to behave contrary to the perception of their identity ("you haven't been yourself lately"). That would also explain times when trust is deconstructed or broken as a result. The conceptual identity changed or became non-existent and invalid. Not to mention the sticky amnesia problem (*insert philosphical groans here*).

11:44 PM  
Blogger allan milgate said...

PT et al,
you clearly need to get an understanding of assurance frameworks:
http://identityaccessman3.blogspot.com/

4:29 PM  

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