LFP194 – Do We Need a Radically Decentralised Approach to Identity & is Tim Berners-Lee Right? w/Kirill Slavin CEO Reputation Transfer

With the long-planned centralised ID (via pretext of “medical passports”) juggernaut bowling down the road towards us and ushering in a Western version of the Chinese Social Credit Score where your Human Rights, rather than being God-given, become a function of  your obedience to ever-more politician-decided criteria it seems a great occasion to discuss what an alternative might look like. No less than Tim Berners-Lee has an alternate vision with his Solid project“Solid is a technology for organizing data, applications, and identities on the web.”

Serial entrepreneur Kirill Slavin is CEO of Reputation Transfer an InsureTech focusing on data portability and extra data points for insurers.

Kirill (who is also CEO of EdTech Academator – busy guy) joins us in this episode to discuss a radically different take on digital identity as well as discuss whether Berners-Lee is right, wrong, too radical or not radical enough.

Topics discussed include:

  • the appropriate context of UK PM announcing new restrictions to get himself out of a politically tight spot
  • technology creates problems but can also solve problems – how can we use tech to dig us out of the centralised-tyranny hole?
  • the origin of the names “Kirill” and “Slavin”
  • how Kirill was identity-less for some time pending resolution of his names
  • Kirill’s career journey from Moscow State University through finance and management consultancy to serial founding
  • the twin tap-roots of identity-centralising forces are regulation but also the power of networks
  • “it’s easier to put identities in one place but then Governments and BigTech would like to exploit that for their own purposes”
  • Sweden’s trail project to chip people “for their convenience”
  • the lack of safety of databases – hacking of all levels of all levels of databases
  • people’s desire to control their own data
  • how the ratings agencies are “fraying at the edges” due to open-banking
  • where this might go
  • so far the focus has been more on data than identity – but of course there is no former without the latter as an owner
  • why cant one have many pseudonymous identities for many uses cases
  • Kirill’s perception that this is still the predominant model outside of FS (&its stronger centralising regulation)
  • “my radical concept is ditch the over-arching concept of ID”
  • why do we need names? What is identity?
  • “nowadays it is possible to prove that user X on Platform A is the same as user Y on Platform B without the concept of universal name”
  • the “hub and spoke” model of identity
  • surnames as a State-imposed concept re identity back in the day for purposes of taxation and control
  • case study of insuring ones car and the DVLA
  • Kirill’s optimism about the distributed identity model
  • comparison between the (so-called) metaverse and the real world
  • the arms race between the State and technologists trying to stay one step ahead (eg VPNs/Tor browser)
  • is Tim Berners-Lee right?
  • Kirill’s analysis of what TBL gets right, what he does not and what is not ambitious enough
  • shoutouts for Reputation Transfer and
  • the commonality of both business being very ethical and focusing on using tech for good – in the latter case eg inverting the BigTech platforms who want to steal your attention for their profit

And much much more 🙂

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