Identity is a uniquely human concept. It is that ineffable “I” of self-consciousness, something that is understood worldwide by every person living in every culture. As René Descartes said, Cogito ergo sum — I think, therefore I am. (Source)
What constitutes your identity? What makes you who you are? What is it about you that distinguishes you from others? Philosophers have argued over these questions since the beginning of civilization. Suffice to say there are no simple answers. Identity is a difficult concept to pin down.
Nevertheless, we don't need a precise definition to see that there are problems with how modern society thinks about identity.
In the words of Christopher Allen:
Today, nations and corporations conflate driver’s licenses, social security cards, and other state-issued credentials with identity; this is problematic because it suggests a person can lose his very identity if a state revokes his credentials or even if he just crosses state borders. I think, but I am not.
How can we improve on this?
It is clear that we are at an inflection point for how the digital world interacts with the physical world.
The legacy systems of the physical world have not kept up with the rising importance of the digital world. As both worlds continue to merge, this scenario will need to change.
This gives us an opportunity to create systems -- from the ground up -- that bridge the two. The systems that operate with a different concept of identity.
If we design them well, these systems will allow us to redefine how modern society thinks about identity. Perhaps getting us closer to that ineffable "I" of self-consciousness.
At Iden3, we're focused on building the tools and developing the protocols to make this happen.