Fri 4 Jan 2019 11:51AM

Identity - Who and What Am I?

MS Michael Shea Public Seen by 47

In a digital world the concept of Identity is under definition. For thousands of years people, organizations and 'things' (animals, ships, mountains...) have had characteristics of identity that were local, and in many cases completely subject to their close environs. The concept of 'papers' is relatively recent (a couple of hundred years old) and as we move headlong into a digital world, control of our identity has rapidly shifted away from the individual (person, org, thing) to other bodies (gov's, businesses). We are are at a crucial point of being able to wrest back some degree of control, but this window is closing.

My questions are thus:
- how do you define identity?
- what is the difference between identity of a thing versus a person versus and organization?
- personal data a human right or asset? Inalienable or alienable?


Josh Fairhead Fri 4 Jan 2019 3:02PM

1) Identity is contextual and correlative. As above so below, as within so without. We are microcosms representative of the macrocosm. A balance of multiple relationships (the various "I's) that create the (usually unstable) whole. DID defines it as subject, identifier, attribute with a contextual tie. That's biomimetic and natural to my head.
2) There isn't a difference between these parties. Philosophically they are the same entity but unique objects as we categorise stuff in our heads. What is important in the digital world is how much self animation we give digital twins. I.e. a bot may not have a chat attribute but people might.
3) the article you previously sent me, convinces me that it's a right. Its unseperable context so it's a part of us by my definition of identity.


Michael Shea Sat 5 Jan 2019 11:13AM

To dig a little further...
1. A little simpler language please. This is one of the challenges I find in the identity space. The language used to describe positions and thoughts tends to the complex with borderline esoteric language. The topic IS complex, and edges towards the metaphysical. However, complex language also provides the mechanism to cloak uncertainty with the appearance of understanding.

So, to push back, can you put it in simple, plain language?
2. If there is no difference between a thing and a person, do you assign the same rights to both? Are you saying they are equivalent?
3. Can you be more specific? (here is the article Josh refers to: https://medium.com/@hackylawyER/do-we-really-want-to-sell-ourselves-the-risks-of-a-property-law-paradigm-for-data-ownership-b217e42edffa)


Josh Fairhead Sat 5 Jan 2019 3:48PM

1) identity is contextual connections. Through those connections you define entities through multiple perspectives and from this we seem to define rights. For the purpose of building things we would probably want to categorise types of connection rather than entities.
2) things Vs people. Yeas they should be able to have the same rights (as theoretically we can permit such eg NZ rivers), but these rights should be assigned/established based on the connections and type. There is probably a word that applies to types of connection like schema, topology or ontology - I think that's the place to look
3) you unintentionally create data on the internet much like you generate footprints unintentionally. This is a pairwise connection of sorts, you left tracks. If someone follows them all over it becomes a bit like stalking. One cannot leave no trace (does that make it inalienable?)

Dig the line of thought :) hope my amendments are useful!


Marko Prljic Sun 6 Jan 2019 7:54AM

"identity is contextual connections. Through those connections you define entities through multiple perspectives and from this we seem to define rights." - this is a thought to move forward with.


Michael Shea Sun 6 Jan 2019 10:14PM

On #2, giving legal status to 'things' is a very interesting concept, and while it looks like the concept has been floated since the 1970's, I can see a vector where carried to a full implementation I could see the world becoming completely tied up in legal action.

Here is an article that goes over some other implementations: https://theconversation.com/when-a-river-is-a-person-from-ecuador-to-new-zealand-nature-gets-its-day-in-court-79278
I understand the intent here, but there is something about this approach that makes be feel that this is creating a bigger mess for the future. Can't say why, and may be completely wrong. If anyone has more specifics on the exact processes and limits it would be great to learn.


Josh Fairhead Sun 6 Jan 2019 11:18PM

100% - the problem with governance at the moment is it's static rather than dynamic. So yes in the current sense but my caveat being that entities should be defined by connection and then rights based on entities. Its all just higher orders of identity, rights are the same thing as reputation on the internet because no one knows your a dog


Marko Prljic Sat 5 Jan 2019 10:01AM

Great questions Mike, I'll get back to this.


Josh Fairhead Sun 6 Jan 2019 11:29PM

A thought about identity (and thus useful for the system asking): the consistent identity is about what we are not. (I don't litter, I'm not short, I'm not under 21, I'm not human, I'm not able to... etc.). - capabilities Vs ACL


Hemdrup Sun 10 Feb 2019 11:38AM

From a perspective of someone like me thats been living in different countries.
Its not my facebook or Twitter etc. i consider my identity. But, if i lost all my papers i would technically lose all ability to prove who i am.

Canada has a record of who i am, Denmark, Germany all have a different version in the record. Each assigning me a new ID.

In some sense a perfect digital identity is for me a "single" source of truth. What the pass board numbers is trying to do. So all purchases, loans, taxes are all attached to the same string of numbers, which is "me". layers of abstractions can be build on for each country by the core ID stays the same.


Michael Shea Wed 6 Mar 2019 4:07PM

But isn't a 'single source of truth' exactly what The Zuck is building? Their platforms, SDK's, data sharing agreements, data integrations all build out that way.

Is a person reducible to a single number? Do we really want 'one ring to rule them all'? Can you change the one ring?

And are your digital breadcrumbs you? If that is so, does that mean you can never change? Will your past always define your future?

Load More