Wednesday, May 18, 2005, 10:41 AM

Why I'm Passionate About Digital Identity

I drafted this piece a while ago in response to Johannes Ernst’s post Where have all the visionaries gone?. Initially, I thought it was a bit over-the-top for this blog; but upon reflection, touchy-feely might be just what we need...

The future I see is a world of real choices. Every possible “thing” can be connected to every other “thing”. Things organize to help us live more simply, if we choose. Or we can choose to observe the full complexities of a fully wireless, connected world that we can barely imaging today. Just like the forest – we can see it as an elegant entity, or a very complex ecosystem.

But yet we maintain a level of privacy greater than most of us know today. (None of these blunt identity devices like RFID’s in passports.)

The descendants of AI agents (that we used to tinker with in grad schools) help us to manage just about every aspect of our lives from our calendars, to our groceries, to our health, to our social lives... if we choose. And these are our agents, if we choose – or perhaps Google might provide them to us in exchange for being able to study our habits – and again, it is our choice.

Things that are potentially criminal cannot be carried out with anonymous identity, so crime is low. Things that are harmless to others can be carried out with full anonymity. (Yes, I realize the interesting debates, as always, will be around what should be criminal.)

My ideal future fuses the utopia of security, privacy, and choice. As a society, the trade-offs we make between security and freedom are real ones, not Hobson’s choices; and as individuals, we have the freedom to choose which society we want to live in.

The required work week is tending towards zero (because machines keep improving productivity), but we soldier on because we have hopes that go beyond survival and our current state of existence.

(And, oh yes, no hunger, wars, plagues.)

But, today, we don’t yet have the constructs to support this connected world. Our identity systems today are grossly inadequate. And identity systems need to be at the core of this future world. So, we think, we design, we build, we write. Hopefully, some of the efforts of our digital identity community ends up in the foundation of that future society. I fully expect so. Call me a dreamer.

1 Comment(s):

Blogger Mark Dixon said...

I share your passion about Identity. Thanks for the extensive collection of informative links.


My Blog:
Exploring Identity

9:51 PM  

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