Via marginal revolution, Tyler Cowen has brought to our attention this fascinating blog post by Daniel Miessler about the future of the Internet. Mr Miessler envisions a future with “Universal Daemonization” or an Electronic I.D. System in which every person and business will have “a bi-directional digital interface that serves as a representation of itself.” For us, what’s especially intriguing about this is that a Universal Electronic I.D. System would make it possible for people and firms to establish a “digital reputation” of themselves. Mr Miessler writes (emphasis added by us):
Digital reputation will be conveyed for humans through their daemons and federated ID. Through a particular identity tied to our real self, our professional skills, our job history, our buying power, our credit worthiness—will all be continuously updated and validated through a tech layer that works off of karma exchanges with other entities. If you think someone is trustworthy, or you like the work they do, or you found them hilarious during a dinner party, you’ll be able to say this about them in a way that sticks to them (and their daemon) for others to see. It’ll be possible to hide these comments, but most will be discouraged from doing so by social pressure.
Our first reaction to this possibility was pure unadulterated Luddite horror. But upon further reflection, maybe a universal ID is the way to go so long as we had special “karma courts” in place to resolve disputes about karma. Someone, for example, might think they are entitled to x units of good karma credits when, in fact, they deserve to lose karma points, or vice versa. Also, we would want each person or firm to retain the option of declaring “karma bankruptcy.” The maximum number of karma bankruptcies should be set low (no more than one or two during one’s lifetime), and the fact of declaring a karma bankruptcy would remain on one’s daemon or electronic I.D. forever. But doesn’t everyone deserve a “fresh start” (like in real bankruptcy), even if he or she or it accumulates too much bad karma?