We’re 1 / 4 of a century into an period of digital feudalism.
The feudal system is a medieval assemble: serfs work the land to create worth, and landlords confiscate most of that worth.
At this time, as an alternative of farm produce, the asset class is knowledge—created by us, however captured by digital landlords akin to social media and different Web2 purposes. “Browsing the web” has change into “serfing the web,” with customers yielding intimate particulars of their lives for the web lordships to mixture, expropriate, and monetize.
That is necessary, as a result of private knowledge isn’t simply the biproduct of your labor. It’s the stuff of your identification within the digital age. It constitutes a digital model of you, that remembers the whole lot you probably did on-line, everybody you interacted with.
There are apparent issues with this association. Notably, we are able to’t we are able to’t use our personal knowledge to plan our lives. It’s saved in different folks’s silos, which we are able to’t entry—however third events like Cambridge Analytica can, typically with out our data. In the meantime, we get pleasure from not one of the rewards of this third-party knowledge utilization, but bear a lot of the danger and accountability for its clear up within the occasion our digital lords lose or abuse our knowledge. And eventually, we are able to’t become profitable from the information ourselves, however are compelled to observe as firms get wealthy from these priceless belongings.
The answer? Self-sovereign identification
What every of us wants is a digital self-sovereign identification (SSI), neither bestowed nor revocable by any central administrator and enforceable in any context, in particular person and on-line, anyplace on this planet.
This will probably be one of many key matters mentioned at Web3 & Blockchain World (W3B), in Toronto on November 8-9, 2022. Enterprise leaders from many nations will convene for 2 days to debate the right way to harness the ability of Web3 and blockchain applied sciences.
Right here’s how a self-sovereign identification works: It begins with Web3, also called the Web of possession, which helps the creation and custody of non-fungible identification tokens by way of which we management the rights to steward our personal identification, entry (and permit others to entry) the information that comprise our identities. We envision an identification commons, distributed amongst and maintained by the folks whose identities it protects so that everybody’s incentives align, and token holders take part in rule-making across the preservation and utilization of the commons.
A number of identification tasks are working to supply these instruments and capabilities. Listed below are a number of:
Cardea is an open-source verifiable digital credential developed by Indicio and field-tested with SITA Aero on the island of Aruba, the place vacationers used the Cardea app to show their COVID check standing at eating places and different vacationer places.
MemberPass is an SSI answer, developed by the credit score union service group Bonifii, leveraging Evernym’s verifiable credential know-how. It protects members from ID theft and fraud with out revealing any private knowledge.
Yoma (Youth Company Market) used Trinsic ID’s SSI specification to create verifiable digital résumés for job-seeking African youth.
Liberating ourselves from our digital landlords
The last word answer to digital identification have to be unbiased of any company, authorities, or different third get together, and past the whims of executives or bureaucrats. It have to be constructed to survive its customers and implement their proper to be forgotten. To be inclusive, it have to be user-friendly with a light-weight cellular interface and low-cost dispute decision.
This transition will take time and, finally, we count on Web2 organizations to rebuild the belief of these whose knowledge they maintain in 3 ways.
The primary includes governance. Firms and authorities businesses should outline resolution rights round their knowledge and develop an accountability framework that disciplines how staff use knowledge.
The second includes ceasing the Web2 world’s routine accumulating and storing of buyer knowledge. In the meantime, it’s time the tech giants start erasing their large databases altogether (after returning information to clients), or migrating the information to distributed storage methods, such because the IPFS, and transferring management to clients.
The third solution to rebuild belief includes cultivating new core competencies: the power to work with enormous anonymized datasets rented from giant numbers of individuals, all dealt with in a distributed and trust-minimized method. It is going to flip the data-analytics enterprise mannequin on its head and reward firms for serving as knowledge brokers on behalf of people.
The self-sovereign identification is one the pillars of a new social contract for the digital financial system, and will probably be essential to the transformation to a extra open, inclusive, and personal financial system.
We’d like greater than entry to our knowledge. We’d like possession of it.
Don Tapscott is creator of 16 broadly learn books about know-how in enterprise and society, together with the best-seller Blockchain Revolution, which he co-authored along with his son Alex. He and Alex are co-hosting W3B in Toronto, November 8 and 9.
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