We are creating digital realities and must enrich them with the kind of features that can benefit us. NFTs are good for objects, but what about ourselves?
We have been tracking who we are forever. The basic example is presenting yourself by stating your name to someone while shaking their hand. We have also developed ways to make sure that people are who they say they are through identification documents, both paper, and digital ones. However, there is very little or no corresponding streamlined, efficient way of managing our digital identity. At least three sets of online identities are necessary, and all of the platforms must be able to accommodate at least one or two, if not all three: the true name based digital identity, the pseudonymous digital identity, and the anonymous digital identity.
For the true name based digital identity, I’ll bring up as an example Proof of Humanity, which is an interesting initiative that allows a network of humans vouching to confirm that you are who you say you are, and you get associated with an Ethereum wallet address. After you establish your true name, with a digital identity, this should be applicable and portable. With this, you can easily make it verifiable by another platform without having to go through the entire process again.
The second application is a pseudonymous digital identity. There is no reason to establish the explicit and visible correspondence between your physical identity and a pseudonym, and there are a myriad of legitimate reasons for this. The simplest kind of reason can be for example, that on LinkedIn you are driven to like and comment in a professional manner, which can be either by interacting with the brand of your employer and other brands in the ecosystem. But simultaneously, you have a lot of interests that have nothing to do with that kind of activity, and you don’t want to mix your identity as a vice president of a company with your cosplays or DJing.
The third application is an anonymous digital identity. This is fundamentally important for platforms, and for society as a whole. The reason why anonymous identity in platforms is so crucially important is that there can be existentially important reasons to be able to participate in the online digital world while making sure that the connection between your online anonymous identity and your physical identity cannot be established. In most Western countries, for example, same-sex relationships are recognized and legalized, while in others this is a criminal activity punished by death. And for those who believe that the emancipation of the human condition goes through recognizing the right of a person to be homosexual, without running the risk of being put to death, the ability to express themselves online knowing that their physical identity is separate and that the separation is protected is crucial.
These three kinds of digital identities must be analyzed, understood, and implemented in our platforms in a surefooted manner, not just through the terms and conditions that no one reads. Even if the platform does not enforce it, like in the case of using your real name in a Facebook account, the future of the health of our digital lives depends on this, together with a lot of our activities and our wealth. Let’s get to it and establish a clear understanding of these three kinds of digital identities.