Posted by Prabhu Guptara | Uncategorised

Many companies have been started with the objective of creating a single secure “verified digital identity” which could have multiple applicability.

Indeed, some claim to have such a technology already.

But it may be sobering to consider the largest such effort in the world: India’s programme (“Aadhar”) to provide all its 1.2 billion citizens with verified digital identities.

That programme has been a disaster – though not only for technical reasons.

Further, it may be instructive to consider the following:

I don’t know if you have the problem of a burgeoning, if not bursting, pocket because of the number of cards for banking and other business purposes that have to be carried nowadays.

I certainly have that problem.

In addition to the several “verified digital identities” that I carry most days, I have to carry, every time I travel internationally, the “most verified” of these (my Passport).

So the problem is merely that my many verified digital identities don’t talk to each other.

Could someone please start working on that?

Perhaps someone is working on that already?

Perhaps even on the possibility of using my “most verified digital identity” (my Passport) for all banking and other business purposes?

But halt a moment!

In such an ideal world, what if my “most verified digital identity” was lost or stolen?

Would I then have, in addition to the headache of getting a new Passport in order to be able to return home or travel out, also the problem of obtaining a new identity for all banking and business purposes (or getting my new identity/ Passport accepted for each of these )?!

In that case, might it be better, after all, to continue to have multiple verified digital identities, however inconvenient that is?

If one of my digital identities is lost or stolen, I can, in the immediate aftermath, still continue to function, to a greater or lesser extent, on the basis of the other (unrelated) identities that still remain with me..

Perhaps there is something to be said for a small amount of bother and inefficiency every day, in order to prevent a huge bother and complete paralysis at any unexpected point.

It used to be called, in technical circles, “redundancy”.

Non-geeks used to call it “insurance”.

The words, and the legalities (indeed, the underlying concepts) are different.

The attitude is the same: there is such a thing as too much short-term efficiency, too much leanness.

That also has a name.

In medical science, it is called anorexia.

So how much redundancy should one have?

The rule of thumb used to be: as much as might be necessary to overcome the worst disaster that you can foresee.

And a little extra, in order to cover even worse disasters that one can’t foresee at present.


How could it possibly be that some thought processes from pre-digital ages might have some validity in our VUCA world?!

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