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Re: [ontolog-forum] "Data/digital Object" Identities

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John Bottoms <john@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:43:27 -0400
Message-id: <5449221F.3050009@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Have you ever gone through security at a DoD facility or looked at the DoD identification process? It contains three (3) items:
    ° Something you are,             (fingerprint, biometric, etc)
    ° Something you have, and   (a badge or ID)
    ° and something you know.    (a password)

Industry is looking to add a 4th to this list: "Something you do". Basically, the act of playing a game or sequence of motions is used to create a profile of your responses that can be predictive. An article in Scientific American explains the concept:
Forget Passwords: How Playing Games Can Make Computers More Secure

-John Bottoms
 FirstStar Systems
 Concord, MA USA

On 10/22/2014 10:19 PM, Hans Polzer wrote:

Thanks for your observations, Frank. They align with my own experiences and thinking in this area.


Regarding your last observation:

But, I also think that identification of *physical* objects might never or not for a long time be replicatable with information about the object that can be captured on a computer.  “


My sense is that a lot of work with bar codes and RF ID, the Internet of Things, as well as in the biometrics area is an ongoing/increasing effort to create physically detectable/readable identifiers for physical objects that can be manipulated in cyberspace (along with other useful characteristics of the physical object). It also seems to me that there has been a growing trend to use DNA-based biometrics as the basis for the best or most natural “inherent” identity for people. Of course, we don’t (generally) think of ourselves as being our DNA. But somewhat ironically, I think our DNA imbues us with self-awareness, facial recognition, and “mirror” neurons that seem to give us a sense that others we encounter in the environment have a specific identity. Perhaps the very notion of identity is an anthropomorphic  manifestation of our inherent biology?


I’ll also note that the US DoD has been chasing the notion of assigning an IP address to just about everything for some time. This idea has now been adopted more broadly with the meme “the Internet of Things”, which puts a little more emphasis on some level of intelligence/autonomy in addition to the basic idea of “addressability” (another form of identity with “spatial” connotations). But the key social/institutional aspects of identity that Ed highlighted in his response to your email still don’t get attention they deserve, in my opinion.


By the way, my aside “however sameness might be defined”, was intended to convey the point you made in your fourth paragraph, perhaps too tersely.


Also, from my perspective, Ed’s example of the gas station on the corner persisting as an entity regardless of changes in how it might be identified was a great restatement of the Entity Primacy principle I mentioned in my email. His example also underscores the fact that just about any attribute/characteristic of some entity can be used as an identity or identifier, depending on the context in which the entity is being identified or sought/referenced.




From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of William Frank
Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 9:47 AM
To: [ontolog-forum]
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] "Data/digital Object" Identities


Cyber Identity has been at the heart of my job for the last three years, and identity an interest ever since I wrote my bachelor's thesis on Leibniz and Master's thesis on Frege.

I agree with you, entirely Hans,  and would say that implicit in your language is the essence of the problem: 'identity' is a kind of a very ghostly abstraction without much mooring.  Identity is surely not an attribute of a thing.   What HAS a mooring is the ACT of identification  As you put it Hans, "assigning an identity."  The act of identification is, as you say, a social act, and is of course context dependent. 

Also, I agree that identification in cyberspace is what creates the the acute need for better understanding of identifications.

But, it is not an entirely new problem, applications and deeper dives into what is already known might suffice. 

For example, Gary's questions: Is a data object in one format the same as a data object in a different format or a different one?  The bit streams can change but the original identity might be considered the same."  This applies to *all* human artifacts.  When is Moby Dick the 'same' book?    However, a new huge confusion has arisen, the conflating of identifiers with identities. 

As Gary says, 'seems like a large claim."  Worse than large, if people think that computers can provide mathematical certainly about things in the real world, the assurance that, in effect, a passport MUST be a correct indentifier, then we are another step along the way to handing over autocratic authority to the machines.  Instead of 'we do not have a record of your payment'. we go do 'you did not make the payment.' 

I am not sure how Jack's point about URIs relates, except that surely, 'to be is to be a URI" is another weird way the world might be going.    For cyber thiings and their identifying characteristics, I would agree with you, Jack.  But, I also think that identification of *physical* objects might never or not for a long time be replicatable with information about the object that can be captured on a computer. 





On Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 7:22 PM, Jack Park <jackpark@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

I've been importing ontologies into a topic map of late. It's rather surprising how many URIs have been assigned to the concept with the label "Person".

I think it is correct to argue that there are many different ways in which some entity is identified by different individuals and communities, so it would seem that any "Architecture" which grows up around digital objects -- which, by many lights, are proxies for subjects one way or another-- should be capable of capturing all knowable ways to identify that object, regardless of the database identifier assigned to it locally.


On Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 3:24 PM, Hans Polzer <hpolzer@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:



I tend to agree with your musings. The issue of identity (of whatever entity) is certainly one that the network revolution has brought to increased importance, if for no other reason than that it exposes the identities that anyone assigns to an entity/object, be it digital or “real world” to those who may assign a different identity to that same entity/object, however “sameness” might be defined. The NCOIC Net Centric Principles grappled with this issue by means of a principle called “Entity Primacy”, which basically states that whatever identity you might assign to an entity/object, it has other identities in other, usually collective, frames of reference. Deal with that, as opposed to assuming that the identity you assigned has primacy. Usually that would mean recognizing that the entity/object has other identities in other frames of reference, and one should be prepared to map the locally assigned identity to one or more other identities in other frames of reference, presumably those used by actors with whom one might want to exchange information about said entity/object.


Of course, one could argue that any entity/object has some “natural” or “inherent” identity, such as the PID referenced below, UUID’s (Universal Unique Identifiers), or a person’s DNA, or perhaps more pragmatically, the VIN of an automobile. But even these assume a context of some, usually implicit, scope and an associated frame of reference. In other words, such an identity is inherently one of the collective within which the entity/object is being identified. Entity Primacy therefore points out that no collective context has a priori primacy for assigning identities to entities/objects. One needs to specify which collective context a particular identity for an entity/object is based on/derived from. And yes, this is recursive, since such collective contexts for assigning identities will themselves have identities in, presumably, larger contexts.


Humans just tend to glom onto some collective context (such as DNS) and assume that everyone else will simply use that collective context for identifying entities, forgetting that not everything uses DNS, even in the networking domain. PIDs would certainly help things – but they are not universal and they likely assume some representational context dimensions, as you surmise in your email. That’s OK as long as one is explicit about what those are and understand the scope limitations that they imply when interacting with others who might not share those assumptions.




From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Gary Berg-Cross
Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 5:39 PM
To: [ontolog-forum]
Subject: [ontolog-forum] "Data/digital Object" Identities


There is a bit of a movement to discuss digital data in terms of Digital Objects and an  "Architecture."  One rationale for this seems to be to provide an easier mechanism for the "creation of, and access to, digital objects as discrete data structures with unique, resolvable identifiers"  - From a CNRI’s Press Release. 

It is further argued that such Digital Objects with a persistent ID (PID) will "provide a foundation for representing and interacting with information on the Internet."

Seems like a large claim and I wonder what this community thinks of this idea. After all Identity is quite a semantic issue and intuitions about identities for digital objects might cause some problems.  They seem quite mutable and we'd need to distinguish the ID for the raw data from each processing version of it.  Is a data object in one format the same as a data object in a different format or a different one?  The bit streams can change but the original identity might be considered the same.



Gary Berg-Cross, Ph.D.  


SOCoP Executive Secretary

Independent Consultant

Potomac, MD


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