Without Confirmed Identity we Are Lost

(Picture of Chas with great guitarists, identity confirmed)

Prepare yourself for an unpopular opinion to be expressed, that will likely make no sides of the political spectrum happy.

The opinion is: All humans should be immediately identifiable to other humans. In other words, the State or some entity or technology should be able to validate our true identity, and other humans should be able to confirm it.

Don’t worry, I am not about to talk about the blockchain.

I know the arguments against this from the left and the right. Liberals will usually point out how identity validation was used to disenfranchise voters in the American South in the past or is being used now to discriminate against those without IDs, the poor and minorities. This Atlantic article is a good sample of this position.

On the Right, you will see the standard fear of the nanny state pop up, concerns about limitations on our freedom, etc. Also that people have a “right” to be anonymous.

Generally speaking, these concerns around identity are valid, and should be seriously considered. To the Left I would say: let’s make sure everyone gets equal consideration in generating identity validation, and that isn’t going to happen at the county level. It will take a national movement to ensure this is done fairly. To the right I say: yep, ever vigilant, thanks for your service, etc. Seriously, identity has been used as a precursor to genocide in the past, and we should tread lightly.

But my concern is not about voting or proportional representation. This is actually about protecting our species from those who would use bots to do us harm and take advantage of this massive hole in our security.

In the last year I have had to replace my bank card three times. We live on the edge of deep fakes entering the popular discourse. The gaps in our current cobbled together system are apparent and are being filled by for-profit companies like Clear selling face recognition and biometric tech to law enforcement agencies without any real oversight.

Soon, only cops will know who you really are. But that misses the point. We all need to know that you are a human Singleton and part of our larger tribe.

The funny thing is, the only real way to validate identity is by having people who know you attest to your validity. That is the promise of our social networks. Instead, because they can be so easily manipulated with paid ads and false beings, they are bastions of fraud.

But this can be fixed. We just need to accept the cost of helping each other prove we are real.

When you interview for a job, you often have to provide references. You may think this is a cursory procedure, but humans are actually really good at finding red flags in simple conversations like “tell me about the company you worked at” kind of questions.

So imagine if, with the help of machine learning, a transaction could be flagged as potentially fraud. Instead of having a bank rep call me to validate with canned questions or voice recognition, which is going to be easily faked by low level hackers in the next few years, what if instead we used video to validate identity with people you know and trust. Then you pass this valid token back to the ML system.

All day long we talk to people over video conferences, posting vids of us and our kids, etc. Instead of just selling ads space, social media could sell us something actually valuable: protection. Validation of who I am.

What will make all of the above happen will be the rise of deep fakes that can easily pass the elementary Turing test that a bank rep would give.

A Singleton can only be in one place at a given time. There is only one of you in existence. If we cannot validate this, with hardware keys, multifactor auth, and the confirmation of other Singletons, we will have no defence when the real AI shows up in the 2020s.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.