The paper falls far short in its appreciation for human-centred design, and this is quite typical of contemporary approaches to digital identity.Read more
First published to the AKASHA Foundation blog.
Co-author of Radical Markets Glen Weyl invited me to review Verifying Identity as a Social Intersection, co-authored with his colleague at Microsoft, Dr. Nicole Immorlica, and Stanford University's Professor Matthew Jackson.
The topic is so-called digital identity, a term that could be mistaken for how personal and group identity is manifest online, but actually relates to how we might employ digital technologies to transform society's accommodations of and approaches to identity.
It is not a challenge that anyone might describe as readily "solvable", as my recent webinar for SSImeetup makes plain. If anything, it is a fine exemplar for H.L. Mencken's witticism:
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
This paper is an important contribution towards navigating this complexity appropriately. I do however identify a major problem — and therefore opportunity — relating to the conceptualizations of identity the authors have made their object. It appears they are intent on engineering for the trickiest yet perhaps the most societally important conceptualization, but then present it as a solution to a more mundane conceptualization, and one that desperately needs the balance of the former to mitigate its innate harmful potential.
I finish with a brief explanation of the AKASHA Foundation's work here. As you can imagine, this is core to our purpose.