I will continue to lay into Philip for failing making broad sweeping generalizations about it that are simply not true and create mis-information in our space. He goes on his piece to say this:
When the SSI community refers to an ‘identity layer’, its subject is actually a set of algorithms and services designed to ensure the frictionless transmission of incorruptible messages between multiple parties. This involves some clever mathematics and neat code that will undoubtedly prove of some value in the world with appropriate tight constraints, and it will certainly impact the operation of various conceptualisations of identity, but this is not human identity per se, or the digitalization of human identity. Far from it, as we shall see.– THE DYSTOPIA OF SELF-SOVEREIGN IDENTITY (SSI)
So again. When I say you don’t understand the technology. I am reading things like this and asking myself what is he referring to? What actual technology in SSI does this? None that I know of. It is so non-specific and general – I don’t want to live with that type of technology but it does not describe SSI in the form of VCs and DID and the protocols around them accurately. Its scary for no good reason and it boarders on mis-information.
So lets break it down.
its subject is actually a set of algorithms <- what algorithms? where?
You are saying this as if in today’s internet we aren’t subject to this NOW by the likes of facebook, google, twitter, amazon etc.
With Self-Sovereign Identity tech – each person has a piece of software that has a responsibility to serve them a fiduciary duty if you will to the person. Right now a lot of work is going on to construct the user-interface so that people really understand what is going on within that UX. So along the lines of actually helping – work needs to be done on the rules and regulations that make this really true that the software provides who supports you with your wallet and agent must make the code work for you (not them) – cause you are right technology is not enough.
a set of algorithms and services designed to ensure the frictionless transmission of incorruptible messages between multiple parties
So I think what you might be talking about is the protocol DIDComm that supports people being able to construct incorruptible cryptographically secure tunnels of communications between themselves and other people or institutions.
But you don’t reference the actual protocol so I don’t know. If you are – then let’s get busy and talk about what DIDComm can and can’t do and what might be wrong with it and THEN…actually dive in with the community building Version 2 of this protocol right now and DIF and help it be better.
Maybe you are talking about exchanging credentials between a person and another party. Well that too has a set of protocols and cerimonies being developed in the presentation exchange work happening at the Decentralized Identity Foundation and get this we even have a product manager group that is working on desgin patterns for user-experiecne flows for these wire protocols.
You make it sound like some how wallets and agents are nefarious without any human agency or control, or with out any process (you might call this friction) to send messages around without a person’s awareness or consent. Well that isn’t what this tech does. It gives people more control and agency to manage how information flows about them between multiple parties.
This involves some clever mathematics and neat code that will undoubtedly prove of some value in the world with appropriate tight constraints, and it will certainly impact the operation of various conceptualisations of identity, but this is not human identity per se, or the digitalization of human identity
Zero people are running round the SSI community claiming that this technology “represensents human identity” in the big macro sense of what that can mean.
We are as I have said repeatedly we are solving a narrowly constrained problems.
How can two parties connect two each other without a third party owning the identifiers of those two people. (This is what we have with FB, Google, e-mail etc today).
How can people via the internet share things that entities assert (party 1) about them to other entities (party 3) without party 1 and party 3 needing to “talk” about the person in order for the information to move in a trust worthy way.
We aren’t building giant frictionless algorithmic exchange mechanisms that move information frictionlessly and implied with that statement is an implicit “without consent”. We just aren’t doing this.
We are not trying to “digitize human identity”. Nor are we trying to some how digitally represent all “human identity”. Although you may be taking some broad generalizations some who work in this community have said at one point and taking what they are saying out of context (by all means – work on directly critiquing specific works that do this)
We are working on (decentralized) identifiers that have different properties and give people more avenues of control than they have now over the identifiers that are assigned to them by technology systems and institutions. With SSI wallets and agents individuals generate their own identifiers and this locust of control is meaningful relative to the technology and dare I say “identity layer” that we have now where we do not have this type of control over or identifiers in technology systems.
This is the third in a series of posts all critiquing Philip’s post.
Bonus – Why my expertise is radically interdisciplinary and not focused solely on “information technology” cause that is always a reason to not listen to something a woman is saying.