Fang Talks


There’s a problem with the internet.

Identities on the internet are cheap. No, they’re free even. If you ever so desire, it is no effort at all to create a hundred alternate identities for yourself. It’s a special kind of anonymity, where you can never really be sure who the person you’re talking to actually is. Maybe they own a bunch of other identities under which they have committed shady behavior. There’s no way for you to tell. You can’t verify if someone has a healthy, positive reputation or not.

Luckily, this problem can actually be solved! Heck, it’s already solved theoretically and in the process of being applied practically. It’s the Urbit project, which you might’ve heard me mention recently. It’s a “virtual city” that offers identities, “real-estate”, in a similar way the Bitcoin network offers currency (except it’s all already available).

(Here comes the insane terminology, beware.) Identities in Urbit follow a hierarchy. “Galaxies” are parent identities to “stars”, which are parent identities to “planets”. A planet is identity space for an adult individual (or group of them) and their devices. They will use these to connect to the Urbit network. There’s a finite amount of identities, so planets will not be trivially obtainable, and not for free.

If the individual acts inappropriately or maliciously on the Urbit network (ie spamming, advertising, phishing) their parent identity can stop serving them, and/or services on the network can add that identity to a black-list. This greatly devalues the identity, and makes it unusable since it is no longer trusted. If a star is found to be sharing planets with such unruly individuals frequently, the star will also lose its trustworthiness and thus value.

Since identities cannot be obtained on a whim and have a (small) price tag to them, you can’t just cycle through them all willy-nilly. This makes (for example) spamming on the Urbit network an extremely costly activity, what with your identity becoming practically worthless once you get noticed doing bad things.

Best of all, Urbit layers on top of our existing technologies and internet!
~ Fang


  • 01/07/2016 (12:39 AM)

    This will not go well with my purposes online, which mostly involve insulting people and looking for people willing to help my Nigerian boss find an American bank account to funnel his money through.

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