The Future of Us

Courtesy Waag

Throughout history, many philosophers have asked: “Who am I?” and “What is identity?” In the digital age, these questions take on new levels of meaning. This is especially so when these ideas overlap with discussions surrounding AI, AR, blockchain, the IoT, and other emerging digital technologies. While this landscape is ever-shifting and complex, I wanted to provide a glimpse of what is happening in this exciting digital world.

In May, ETH Zurich held the 1st Blockchain[X] Workshop on E-Identity. Keynote speakers, Frederik Gregaard and Guenther Dobrauz, hailing from PwC Switzerland, said that digital identity is “not just a digital version of your passport, but an extension of yourself in the digital space.” The new technologies are offering ways for humans and systems to act and interact in revolutionary ways.

Nascent soft and hardware are transforming the ways people express, protect, and manage their online identities. With blockchain, every human being can have a legal digital identity.

Imagine using an AI system such as CrossChx to connect with a healthcare professional and receive treatment, an interaction that has all been secured by MedCrypt. Or think about the implications of a service like Okta if applied to the energy sector, and how much could be outsourced to a secure yet open management system through the cloud.

These sorts of opportunities in safety, healthcare, education, and governance represent the internet at its best: safe connection among people/systems who otherwise wouldn’t be able to interact.

IoT is no longer just the internet of things; it now also refers to the identity of things. Such a system focuses not on the user of a connected device, but on multiple digital identities and the relationships among connected devices. The identity of things sector includes many companies focused on security such as Dojo. There are also innovation-driven initiatives such as Airmap, which is working with drones to develop the air travel industry.

Estonia is one of the best examples of how a multi-layered organization can benefit from the latest digital technologies. Their “e-government” is digitally functional, decentralized, transparent, open, and interconnected. Talk about revolutionary.

The last thing I want to leave you with is the potential for when VR, AR, and blockchain come together. AR and VR are still too young to support a high number of users at fast speeds. But with blockchain, there could be a “database of music rights” that will help load games and movies more quickly. Other proprietary information would be much easier to access through a constant state of synchronization.

All of these development are quite exciting, and I assure you, not too far away.