Kin Lane

In The Future We Will All Have Multiple Digital Personas

I am captivated by the news about Uber actively targeting regulators and police in cities around the globe. I specifically love thinking about the work that regulators and investigators are having to do to be able to build a case against Uber, and inversely the amount of work that Uber is doing to thwart these investigations, and break into new and often times hostile markets.

Regulators and police are using burner devices, and fake personas to do their work. Uber is delivering fake services and creating fake signals to create a foggy landscape where they can do business. I'm not rooting for law enforcement, regulators, or Uber, I'm rooting for everyone possessing more than one persona, throwaway versions of themselves that are used to distract, obfuscate, hide, and confuse the machine. It's a very beautiful dumpster fire of a digital world we've created for ourselves--good job everyone.

I'm preparing for some international travel in a couple weeks, so I'm firing up my alter egos. They aren't fake personas, but they are alternative versions of myself, that will be present on all my devices when I cross any international border, on devices I can stand to lose, or just throw away. This is the world now. We won't have just a single digital version of ourselves. We will have alternative version of our personal life, our work lives, and we'll create fake accounts as they are needed--our children are already well trained in this practice.

This will be the only way we can carve out any sense of privacy in a surveillance economy. Platforms and regulators will have to work overtime to connect the dots. Our digital self will become a schizophrenic reflection of our physical world, where devices have invaded every space and moment, and are trying to identify who we are, what we are doing, and connect the dots between each version of our self, as well as those around us. I can't help but feel like the Internet as we know it is somehow fracturing society, and any sense we have of the individual--something that will be difficult to recover from, and I fear we will always be different from here forward.