Cybernetic Augmentation, User Agents and Identity

From IIW

Session Topic: Cybernetics, Augmentation & Identity

Thursday 5C

Convener: Michael Lewis

Notes-taker(s): Michael Lewis

Tags for the session - technology discussed/ideas considered:

cybernetics, augment, identity

Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:

Cybernetics & Identity

  • no attendees, so I'm posting these notes as the ideas that caused me to suggest the topic.


  • Can users be taught the necessary concepts in ID to become informed users?
  • Some already consider humans to have enhanced memory by virtue of their smartphones, etc.

Q1. Is 'augmentation' necessary for a strong user-centric ID ecosystem?

Q2. How do we treat peripherals that enhance human memory or cognition, in a strong user-centric ID ecosystem?


(Most?) People have a natural facility for taking on different personas, but when it comes to formalizing this process very few yet comprehend all the issues. E.g. taking on a psuedonym:

  • why we do it
  • when it is appropriate (social norms, legal issues)
  • when it works
  • how to defeat anonymity

Since formalizing this process is a goal of (e.g.) NSTIC, people will either have to become educated about these issues, or be comfortable with someone else making policy decisions for them (be it friends/recommendations, a competitive markeplace, user-agents, well-meaning corporations).

Q3. Can we educate all people enough that they can make meaningful decisions about identity?

Q4. If we can't get everyone, what do we do for those who can't?

Q5. Do I need a User Agent to manage my PII?

Q6. Is that agent monolothic thing, or is it upgradable with e.g. a new protocol for understanding bank statements?

[Bonus Q. Is identity a universal concept? If not an internal decision, then can (must) it be imposed from the outside? E.g. anyone claiming that they don't have an identity is disavowing all responsibility for their actions, and can't be treated the same way we treat 'normal people' (i.e. people who agree to the usually-implicit social contract).]