1F/ Functional Identity

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Functional Identity

Thursday 1F

Convener: Joe Andrieu

Notes-taker(s): Jeremy Rosenberg

Tags for the session - technology discussed/ideas considered: Functional Identity


Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:


  • What is functional identity?
    • As engineers, how can we talk to lay people without confusing them? Reinforced by ID2020.
    • Nobody seems able to answer what Legal Identity means
    • The fish doesn’t need to define the water and we tend to use shorthand.
  • Not philosophical, meta-physical, cultural
    • Not just digital (Identity is bigger than that)
  • What is the subjective notion of identity?
    • Who Joe is, resides in the minds of everyone who knows Joe.
    • Inherently distributed in the eyes of the beholders.
    • Joe doesn’t exist if you can’t recognize Joe.
  • Names are pointers
  • How we keep track of others and how others keep track of us
  • If I’m alone on an Island, do I need an identity?
    • No, functional use for an identity if you are alone?
  • Identity is the property of being known
  • It seems very hard not to get philosophical.
  • ISO Definition of Identity, fixates on a golden set of attributes
  • A lot of identity is contextual, separate identity and personae depending on context
    • You identity will always be bigger than your attributes
  • Tendency is to think that we can model this with a digital model
  • The model or the map is not the territory, which can lock us into the tyranny of data
  • When talking about people who deal with money laundering or refugees, there is nothing in the system to anchor to
  • Self is part of others
  • A DID is like a stem cell that hasn’t differentiated until it’s correlated
  • Identity is prehistoric, so what is it? We are trying to talk to soccer moms and engineers.
  • Descartes – I register on facebook therefore I am
    • Ubuntu, I am who am I because of who we all are
  • Identity changes over time
    • Mountains used to be a place for exile, so a mountain climber was a witch
    • Then mountain climbers became conquerors
    • Today Mountain climbers are athletes
  • Social identity theory vs identity theory
  • Who you are informs who I present myself to be informs how I am seen which informs who I am. (A triangle)
    • Who you are = how I see myself
  • In Brazilian tribes you often meet people who can refer to 18 generations of their ancestors by name also a child is not the property of their parents, but is a child of the tribe
  • Potential Answers
    • Nouns and Verbs in an identity system
      • Nouns
        • Identifiers
          • Used to identify someone across contexts
        • Attributes
          • Correlate identifiers and they become attributes
          • Providence of attributes is turtles all the way down
          • Perhaps Descriptors?
          • Only becomes an attribute if evidence is meritorious
          • Characteristics
        • Evidence
          • Perhaps “observations” is more accessible?
          • There is a step that needs to happen to go from evidence to attribute (Apply?)
        • Inferences
          • Conclusions feels is a more accessible word?
      • Verbs
        • Accumulate
          • Collect
          • <group>?
        • Correlate
          • Group?
          • Connect?
        • Infer
          • Reputation is a more accessible word
          • Deduce may be more accurate
          • Conclude?
          • Intuit?
          • Reason?
        • Apply
          • Proving?
          • Validating?
          • Disclosing?
          • Proof?
    • Case studies lead to clarity so lets give examples, use cases
      • Concrete instead of abstract works
    • Really good, accessible analogies work well (magic pennies to explain blockchain)
    • Being more graceful, not calling people stupid
    • Uniqueness of the way one feels and the way one presents themselves
    • Identity is about self, but in practice, it’s about how we relate to others.