Identity, Money, Law and Empathy
The article “IT Systems that Scale” outlined how to construct IT systems where data has meaning when used by an application. It contrasts with IT systems where we give data meaning by naming the objects and by attaching meaning to the data values. When we give data values meaning we can provide them with some of the properties of the objects to which the meaning applies. It makes large IT systems unnecessarily complicated and difficult to scale.
Our brain memories appear to work by giving meaning when we have thoughts that “replay” past experiences rather than there being images and memories that we retrieve as data items. When humans work together in groups, we are more likely to scale meaning across people when the ideas and concepts take meaning when we do things rather than being fixed in objects or icons or institutions.
This article describes how our IT systems change and become more “human-like” when we replay previous experiences rather than embed meaning into tokens and icons.
Identity without Directories or Tokens
Identity, in IT systems, is the ability to distinguish one object from another object. One way to identify things is to brand each object with a unique number. The number becomes the surrogate for the object. Unfortunately, many of our systems give the surrogate the properties of the object. Presentation of the identity token means, we the person represented by the token, will pay for goods and services. It works well most of the time, but, as systems get large, it makes them vulnerable and costly to operate.
To make a token system work we have to ensure that the person presenting the token is entitled to do so. We have to make sure the person accepting the token as valid does not reuse the token for other purposes. On the Internet, it means we have to protect the value of the identity token from everyone else on the Internet. It means we have to protect everyone from everyone and nowadays protect from electronic robots that pretend to be people. It is an impossibly large task.
An alternative is to create an Identity when needed with an application. If a group of entities use the same trusted application, then a small group of entities who have previously mutually identified each other can create an identity dynamically by replaying how they identified each other. The memory of each time an entity creates a dynamic identity is kept and reused for each new verification of identity. It means our electronic identities get stronger with time while getting more private and secure.
Applications can create low cost and difficult to defraud identities. As any entity can mutually identify any other entity, we can enlist fixed objects like our house or fridge with which we interact to identify us. We can have as many electronic robots as we need to provide reliable, secure and private identities. The identity system is dynamic and there are no directories or data stores that can be compromised and stolen. The following diagrams outline how identity emerges from interactions.
Value transfers with Stable Money
Crowd Lending to Recycle Money outlines how to recycle money without the cost of interest. The principle applied with Crowd Lending is the same as Identity. Money tokens in a Human-Like IT system hold no value. Instead, they refer to something of value. When something of value exchanges hands using money then the value is realised but not before and the memory of the exchange gives value to the money.
Money tokens have value in and of themselves if they generate more money tokens without an exchange of value. In practical terms, it means we need different mechanisms to give a return on loans without interest. Interest is the creation of new money tokens with the passing of time rather than value being created when value is exchanged.
We can still have interest, but there is an accompanying exchange of goods and services to realise these returns. Generating new tokens without an exchange of something that has a monetary value leads to an unstable money system.
We do not change the current system. It remains as it is but we have islands of monetary stability where money tokens do not increase in number. These islands of stability connect to each other and the wider economic system. However, the islands of monetary stability will increase both in number and in size because they remove rent, in the form of interest, on money tokens.
These articles describe what happens when we only use money as a measure.
Contract Law that Evolves
Contracts are written, so the words used contain the meaning of the contract. To find the meaning, we interpret the words in the contract. When we apply the contract, we see if the results from the contract match the meaning.
With smart contracts, the execution of the contract provides the meaning. If the result of applying the contract in a new context results in a different outcome from the intent of the contract, we adjust the contract so that previous results remain the same and the intent remains the same in the new context. Using distributed apps to supply the meaning to contracts as described in “IT Systems that Scale” results in lower-cost, adaptable contracts with few unforeseen consequences. The contracts operate as an efficient case law legal system.
Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference. Electronic transactions where the execution of an application gives the meaning of a transaction helps us empathise with others because both parties use the same application for the same meaning. Transactions are peer to peer, and the results of using the application will be the same whether you are a receiver or a producer.
You can understand the other person because you can experience the application from both sides.