Persistent identity on a decentralized platform, no KYC

I care a lot about decentralized identity management and data ownership.

I want all data recorded over the course of my life to live in one place, accessible to me at all times. From womb to tomb. From lust to dust. But I have some concerns.

Until now, the economics required to support large scale generation of digitized identity have existed only within the framework of a corporate or national funding model. The type of data that can be affordably and sustainably added to such identity platforms must fit within the constraints of the approved funding model. Developers must first decide how to make money, then choose which data they need to create a profitable output.

This completely goes against the nature of human identity. We are the source of our data. We are the source of our identity. The extent to which our identity is cropped by the funding or value creation goals of a data platform limits the definition of our existence to fit within the platform developers’ curiosity, creativity, and greed. The desire to lock in “real life” identities into online forums, facebook, twitter, reddit, electronic health records, criminal records, citizenship, etc. grows from an economic need to build prediction models, of us all.

Even our understanding of ourselves is a predictive model. Our ability to explain who we are to other people is based on what we have done before, not what we are now, or what we are becoming. The idea of becoming someone new when you move to a new city or move to a new school is one of the only ways to “delete history” and reengage self discovery. But digital identities don’t allow for this. Like a suffocating relationship, most modern identity platforms aim to build permanent predictive models so the recording of new data can be minimized while maximizing our predictability. Listening becomes an expense, while successfully directing our behavior, is profit. Recording new data can then only be justified if the ability to predict us is increased as a result.

If Prism, or any decentralized identity platform hopes to reverse this dynamic, the act of recording new social or biometric data must be more valuable than any singular product developed using our data. The act of recording data cannot rely on funding from any data monetization scheme. If Prism fails to do this, it will become a weaker version of what Google, Amazon, and Facebook are already doing, and it will subsequently fail. We need an open, safe, and secure data economy

Take this MIT Technology review article for example. Facebook doesn’t care who we are, or even what our data are. It just wants to verify we are presently alive and which account is our main account. Even our death is an opportunity to target relevant advertisements to real accounts identified as “close” to us. What facebook doesn’t say, is this predatory behavior incentivizes the creation of fake accounts, and the hijacking of valuable celebrity identities, the very behavior they claim to despise.

I’ve always valued anonymity when contributing to online forums. Not because I want to hide anything, but because I want to discourage others from creating restrictive, predictive mental models about who I am. I might as well be no one. I’m sure healthcare companies, google, amazon, and facebook know way more about me than even I know myself. I might feel differently, I might be more comfortable openly sharing in a future where we are economically incentivized to ceaselessly listen to ourselves and each other, not to predict, but because it helps facilitate understanding.


I smile at the directness and bluntness of this and is reminiscent of mortality.

Who cares about another person’s perception of one’s self, if your true to yourself and happy with yourself then other people’s perception of one’s self is obsolete.

In saying the above it detracts from the point you are wanting to put across.

Which is the freedom to change and brush off the past events and start afresh with a clean slate and not have it overshadow the ‘new you’.

However we are the sum of our experiences, the good, bad and ugly, tug at one of those threads and we would risk unravelling the tapestry of who we are.

Obviously this is just my opinion and I fully respect yours my friend :vulcan_salute:

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A few things. While subjectively it may feel as though we are the sum of our parts, an amalgamation of our past, objectively, this is false.

We are only the exact arrangement of atoms that comprises the physical reality of our bodies. Even our memories of the past, are stored in the present. Memories break down and are forgotten in the present due to the objective reality of our bodies’ state of being.

What I’m trying to say is, while our brains typically must function in the way you describe, the economy should not function this way. The digital infrastructure we build to listen to our lives should not function in the same chronically lazy way that does the human mind.

If we can’t build an economy that is incentivized to listen and record new data, humanity will predict itself out of existence. My body might be healthy today, but tomorrow I could have cancer, the next day I could have terminal cancer, and the day after I could be dead. That would be an unrealistically fast timeline, but it makes my point. We are who we are becoming. We need an economy that understands that. The alternative is a set of incentives that keeps us dying, predictably, only living long enough to have kids that will die predictably. That’s what we have right now, and it is a nightmare.