Managing Society in a Digital World

Information about people is being collected by private companies every day. Whether you know it or not (if you’re a casual users, you probably don’t) they are tracking your every online more. They track what friend’s you going to, what sites you’re looking at, what check-out method you choose, etc. It’s all stored in large server farms all over the world. What’s more important is that your online identity is starting to connect with your offline identity. You upload pictures about things you have done, you check into locations, you mention how you feel etc. Mobile devices have made this sort of information much easier to create and collect. It seems like the government, in an effort to grow online commerce, wants to create a verified online identity for you.

What does this mean? What it means is that it will become much harder to commit online fraud. There will be a database of identities that will help corporations and consumers understand that they are both authorized sellers and buyers. This will be revolutionary. It will also create a great amount of information that companies can use to personalize and socialize the web.

This authorization system can even be expanded into “scarier” areas. With the coming of NFC chips in phones, we will see credit cards disappear. People will make mobile payments via their phones. This is not scary in itself, but the idea of a whole credit profile scares people. You’re naive if you think your credit card company doesn’t already have a profile on you now. This online identity could be expanded to other mobile and cloud services. Imagine your ID or your social security tied to this database and by proxy, your mobile device. I can see stores IDing and charging people all at the same time. Imagine walking up to the register and waiving your phone at an EasyPay station and having that information being sent to the database where your credit information is cross referenced with your ID. That is, only 21 year olds will be sold alcohol. Interestingly enough, a check-in could be added to the profile. This could happen when you go to bars as well.

I think people don’t realize how much information they already give out and aren’t concerned. This is the evolution of the internet. Information will be shared with private and public entities and it will make the world a much better place. It will be harder to sell alcohol to minors. We can track criminals via their phones [the database will keep a record of the phone IMEI and their name and a whole host of other information].

This is all a good decade away, but managing society will become easier when we allow personal information to pass freely between trusted entities. On the other hand, it might become harder to be bad and a once trusted entity may not be so in the future.

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