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Re: "Identity" - is a modal notion and the matrix

From: Melvin Carvalho <melvincarvalho@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2017 14:41:36 +0200
Message-ID: <CAKaEYhKHH1vLmWVSRTbvDAYwer4dYXPPLRrXgKWmbzJTo_cJtA@mail.gmail.com>
To: Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net>
Cc: Steven Rowat <steven_rowat@sunshine.net>, W3C Credentials Community Group <public-credentials@w3.org>
On 2 June 2017 at 06:33, Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net> wrote:

> All of what I wrote below is a short summary of a long philosophical
> discussion that has evolved over 3 millennia, with huge breakthroughs
> in clarity having been made in the last half century. There is actually
> I think quite a lot of consensus on this topic.
> But the above even though fascinating is probably not what most people
> on the planet (the 7 billion mentioned by Steven) think about when they
> mention the identity problem. Most people who speak about rabbit holes
> related to this topic, ones that feel explosive, they are much more
> referring
> to what Lana Wachowski, famous for having directed The Matrix among others
> discusses in this rare appearance at Human Rights Campaign in 2012 related
> to identity and privacy
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crHHycz7T_c
> That most people are not aware of the detailed philosophical logical
> arguments
> does not make the  points of view  they hold right of course, nor does it
> mean
> that the philosophical logical history relating to the topic has no
> bearing
> on that either. I think it actually has a lot to do with it.
> And I can leave it as an exercise for the moment for folks here
> to think of how the two are related.

Talking about the 'meta' aspect of this subject.

I do agree that identity has been discussed, one way or another, for 1000s
of years.

Having watched this space for over a decade I can report similar patterns.

When the topic of identity comes up, there are normally dozens of replies.
The responses are often subjective, and often incompatible with other
subjective opinions.  Finally someone in a position of authority will
normally jump in and censor the discussion.

The technical side is normally less challenging than providing a forum for
everyone to have their voices heard.

On the technical side, at least on the web, we use URIs to name things.
The reason is that will grow a massive network effect, which tends to be
systematically under estimated by most people, especially technical
people.  URIs could actually be called "web names", which might have
avoided some confusion in naming style discussions.  Those web names in
isolation have limited use, so what every data system out there ties key
value pairs to those subjects, so that they can be looked up.  This enables
you to have the best of all worlds, a globally scaling identity system,
plus all the other items you wish that can be looked up.  It just so
happens that we have a lookup system in ubiquitous use today, which is
http, and that's a nice thing have, for systems developers that want a mass

> Henry
> On 1 Jun 2017, at 20:59, Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net> wrote:
> Yes, it looks like Joe's definition is one of what makes a thing the thing
> it is.
> On 1 Jun 2017, at 20:08, Steven Rowat <steven_rowat@sunshine.net> wrote:
> On 2017-06-01 9:06 AM, Joe Andrieu wrote:
>  Identity is innately
> trans-system. Any given "digital identity" may not be, but our real
> world "identity" absolutely is. By its very nature. We have an identity
> completely independent of any system or authority.
> This I suppose is behind Heraclitus statement that
> "You could not step twice into the same river."
> It is also the old question of how much change one can make to something
> and it still
> be the same thing, as the old paradox of Theseus Ship makes clear
> https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Ship_of_Theseus
> These are questions of the essence of things - or the essence of things
> under a description,
> as is made clear when one wonders what the relation between a statue and
> the clay it is
> made of is. The clay statue can stop existing whilst the material it is
> made of continues to
> exist. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/material-constitution/
> The same thing under a different concept can therefore have different
> identity criteria.
> Saul Kripke in "Naming and necessity" gave a definition of the identity
> for a human being
> as the process that starts from the same initial cause: namely the same
> sperm and egg meeting.
> David Lewis later argued that this is what constitutes the cross world
> identity of an object: i.e.
> given that in different possible worlds different things will happen to
> you and me, in one I may be
> rich in another poor. We know that across these worlds we have the same
> object because we can
> locate the cross world identity of the initial cause and then trace the
> different possible paths that
> entity traced across the space of possibilities.  Note that as a result of
> Kripke's definition of human
> (and most animal identity) it necessary that we have the parents we do,
> even though it is a complete
> chance event that produced us.
> David Lewis somewhere argued that one could have other cross world
> identities for humans
> that would lead to different essences. Eg. someone could choose mental
> state similarity as
> one that should be used as personal identity, which would be better for
> making sense of the
> statements of those who on a regular basis in Jerusalem identify with
> Christ.
> Btw, both of those concepts can coexist: we just have different 4
> dimensional objects that overlap
> in parts.
> Even though I think it is really worth keeping in mind these theories of
> identity, and they are needed to
> avoid falling into various philosophical/logical traps, it is perhaps not
> the topic that a credentials community
> group needs to go in too much. Or if you do you can simply relegate this
> to the type of the object that you
> are considering.  You could create a kripke type identity by stating that
> _:x a kripke:Agent .
> and you could identify the more pychological Lewisian agent  in the same
> document with
> _:y a lewis:Agent .
> and if you are a government agency you could define your own criteria of
> identity that can be shorter than a whole persons
> life with
> _:z a us:Citizen .
> or if you are playing a virtual reality game
> _:oxo a Monster .
> The type gives you the identity criteria to use to do cross world, cross
> time identity.
> Mereology here helps (the part of relation) so that you can say how one
> the sculpture is a
> part of lumpal.
> The next thing is out of all the kripke:Agents (or other type) do you
> identify one of the members
> of that type. That you do by desribing the object with a definite
> description.
> https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/descriptions/
> i.e., the kripke:Agent who knows the private key of this public key, or
> the us:Citizen who has
> identity number x, and these other properties, etc...
> There are various logical theories about this, some that are good at
> explaining human speech
> (as David Lewis's does in his 1973 book Counterfactuals applied to
> description logics as I recently
> rediscovered) or one that would work better for something such as the
> internet
> where context cannot be determined the same way as in everyday 3d life.
> That is where the work on the semantic web and others helps since those
> are logics built
> for the web. I pointed to WebID spec as an example of how one can identify
> an agent via a public key
> indirectly. One could also identify an agent via an openid the same way or
> via the ownership of a home
> page, or e-mail, etc. patterns which the foaf ontology have amply
> demonstrated.
> Looks like this should be developed as part of my thesis.
> Henry
> Henry Story wrote, a few hours before that:
> My guess is that a lot of the tension is coming from the notion of there
> being one true identity,
> whatever that means, whereas it is just a relation of a name to a thing.
> I believe Joe and Henry are talking past each other in a fundamental way
> that might be a good example of the tar-pit that Manu likes to talk of.
> Nonetheless, I've found Joe's statements refreshing, and I agree with
> almost all of them so far, so I'd like to take a stab at expressing how
> this 'talking past each other' is accomplished, in my view. It seems to me
> it might be an important difference.
> Henry's position (in my words, using Henry's terminology):
> I believe 'thing' in Henry's statement, "relation of a name to a thing"
> can be a real person, which is the most important type of example. So I'll
> discuss that case.
> Therefore Henry is saying that 'Identity' is the relation of one name
> (label) to a given person. So there can be many Identities for a person.
> Each name is a new identity. Or, perhaps he'd agree there can be subsets of
> labels, correlations of several labels to one person. But there's no
> superset of 'all' names (labels) for the person, that we can call
> 'identity'.
> Joe's position (in my words, using Henry's terminology)
> I believe Joe is most concerned with the fact that a given thing (person)
> is unique in the world. And that any collection of labels that relate to
> that person is part of an assumed superset relating to them, and "Identity"
> is the whole superset. How much of the superset we see at one time varies,
> but it exists because the person exists.
> So to Joe, "Identity" refers to the existence of a unique person, and any
> labels that refer to that person.
> To Henry, "Identity" refers to the existence of a unique label, or set of
> labels relating to a person.
> They seem to be focusing on different parts of the same relationship.
> How might this help the current deliberations? Not sure, but:
>  -- I believe that Joe's usage for "Identity" is closer to what the
> average of the 7 billion people on the planet would use, by a wide margin.
>  -- I believe Joe's usage would match an attempt to integrate, manage, and
> facilitate  digital<-->non-digital flows of goods and people and
> information better than the multiple-label use of "Identity".
>  --I believe Henry's usage is easier to set up in the short term,
> digitally, or within any single jurisdiction.
> Steven
Received on Friday, 2 June 2017 12:45:04 UTC

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