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September 26, 2003

Who Do You Think You Are?

Bryonn Bain thinks he's an intelligent civilized man. The System knows better.

I was interrogated about "terrorist activity"—whether I was involved with a terrorist group or knew anyone else who was—without an attorney present. My Legal Aid lawyer claimed she was also a medical professional and diagnosed me as mentally ill when I told her I teach poetry at New York University. After my bail was posted, I was held behind bars another night because central booking ran out of the receipts required for my release. On my third day in jail, accused of two misdemeanors and a felony I knew nothing about, I was finally found innocent, and allowed to go home.

What's ironic about this whole deal is that computer systems are the way out. People forget something about excellently done computer systems, the mistakes they make are minimal and the speed with which they do things right is phenomenal. Now there are certain to be exceptions, but I challenge anyone to suggest that Citibank's ATMs are routinely making mistakes that cost the bank or its customers any money. When Walter Wriston put his money where his mouth was on electronic banking, an entire new era in finance was begun. Investments in the billions paid off and changed the way we behave when it comes to getting a little cash for the weekend.

Until such time as there is such a trusted and reliable system for identity, we are going to be subject to travesties of justice which are far more consequential than bounced checks.

Today, I can go online, call on my cell phone, or use a magnetic stripe card and a pin and know what my bank balance is, 24/7/365.25 It's not a problem. That is because the infrastructure is right. Sooner or later there is going to be a trusted identity net, and we in the chatting and privileged classes are going to be the first beneficiaries. I'll be speaking about it here in Cobb as time goes by.

Who do you think you are? And who knows you well enough to prove it? Do not doubt that I consider my existence in the blogosphere and your recognition of it as insurance against dark days to come. I'm down with the Negrophile among others. What's your phile?

Posted by mbowen at September 26, 2003 02:59 PM

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