Human beings have an innate ability to identify another familiar person through a person’s face and voice. Through our interaction with technology, we developed new ways of communicating our identity. Things like ID cards, credit cards, and passwords became the norm. They are abstract tools to help machines understand who we are.
In turn, these abstractions required us to design entire systems to support them. Lines formed to show identification, check out counters to service credit cards, and complex login systems to process passwords.
As time passed these systems became insecure, corruptible, and obsolete as technology evolved.
Identity, today, has become confusing and impersonal. The good news is that I believe the future of identity is going to return to being simple and human.
To See is Human; To Recognize, Divine
What would happen if the only identification you need for you… is you?
When you see a friendly face, you recognize who it is by remembering the width of their smile, the color of their eyes, the length of their nose, the shape of their face. You may even remember the sound of their voice, or even their scent so you never mistake them for anyone else. These snapshot memories linger in our minds so that with each new meeting the brain builds a more complete picture of that person.
This process is how computers, using facial recognition technology, recognize humans. It helps them build a better understanding of a person’s identity.
As humans we respond well to familiarity and appreciate it when we are not treated like sets of data.
Personalization in Tech
Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, MIT professor and leader in social robotics, is at the forefront of humanizing our interaction with computers. The following video introduces Jibo, a social family robot that uses facial recognition to know with whom it’s interacting.
Dr. Breazeal asks the question, “What if technology actually treated you like a human being? What if technology actually helps you feel closer to the ones you love? What if technology helped you like a partner, than simply being a tool?”
Our lives could be different if we moved through the physical and digital worlds without the need to abstract our identity. Solving the challenge of identity helps humanize computer systems and the experiences we’ve built around them. Business and organizations could serve people in a way that provides as personal a touch as your favorite local waiter, mechanic, or bartender.
Back to the Future
At Kairos we’re seeing developers re-think established processes. They’re now unbridled by previous approaches to identity. Seeing people unleash their creativity through technology is one of the rewards of working at Kairos.
Solving the challenge of identity is a bit of an obsession for us. It’s step one in our bigger vision of humanizing interactions with computers. I’ll end by challenging you with the same question I ask every person who starts using the Kairos technology. What kind of amazing experiences would you create if you could bring the humanity back into identity?