Kaliya Young at Open Democracy: “Can we use the internet to enhance deep human connection and support the emergence of thriving communities in which everyone’s needs are met and people’s lives are filled with joy and meaning?….
Our work on ‘technical’ technologies won’t generate broad human gains unless we invest an equal amount of time, energy and resources in the development of social and emotional technologies that drive how our whole society is organized and how we work together. I think we are actually on the cusp of having the tools, understanding and infrastructure to make that happen, without all our ideas and organizing being intermediated by giant corporations. But what does that mean in practice?
I think two things are absolutely vital.
First of all, how do we connect all the people and all the groups that want to align their goals in pursuit of social justice, deep democracy, and the development of new economies that share wealth and protect the environment? How are people supported to protect their own autonomy while also working with multiple other groups in processes of joint work and collective action?
One key element of the answer to that question is to generate a digital identity that is not under the control of a corporation, an organization or a government.
I have been co-leading the community surrounding the Internet Identity Workshop for the last 12 years. After many explorations of the techno-possibility landscape we have finally made some breakthroughs that will lay the foundations of a real internet-scale infrastructure to support what are called ‘user-centric’ or ‘self-sovereign’ identities.
This infrastructure consists of a network with two different types of nodes—people and organizations—with each individual being able to join lots of different groups. But regardless of how many groups they join, people will need a digital identity that is not owned by Twitter, Amazon, Apple, Google or Facebook. That’s the only way they will be able to control their own autonomous interactions on the internet. If open standards are not created for this critical piece of infrastructure then we will end up in a future where giant corporations control all of our identities. In many ways we are in this future now.
This is where something called ‘Shared Ledger Technology’ or SLT comes in—more commonly known as ‘blockchain’ or ‘distributed ledger technology.’ SLT represents a huge innovation in terms of databases that can be read by anyone and which are highly resistant to tampering—meaning that data cannot be erased or changed once entered. At the moment there’s a lot of work going on to design the encryption key management that’s necessary to support the creation and operation of these unique private channels of connection and communication between individuals and organizations. The Sovrin Foundation has built an SLT specifically for digital identity key management, and has donated the code required to the HyperLeger Foundation under ‘project Indy.’…
To put it simply, technical technologies are easier to turn in the direction of democracy and social justice if they are developed and applied with social and emotional intelligence. Combining all three together is the key to using technology for liberating ends….(More)”.