DIDW: The Identity of Things


This morning's opening session was a panel moderated by Esther Dyson on the Identity of Things. The debate naturally moved to what does it mean for all of the things I buy to be individually identified. Who manages the relationships? Me? Others? A near-term example that can shed light on some of the questions is SpeedPass, the RFID devices that are being distributed in urban areas to charge tolls to cars as they speed by rather than making the cars stop and pay the toll. These can, of course, be used to track the vehicle in other places as well, and some people are concerned about the "big bother" aspects.

The question I have is, does anyone care? Now that's asked somewhat tongue in cheek since the debate that occurred today in Denver indicates that there are people who care. Even so, consumers have shown their ever increasing willingness to give Albertson's just about any information Albertson's might want to collect in order to save $0.50 on a six-pack of Coke. I think if you tell people that they can have a suitcase that tells you what you're missing after you pack it (based on RFID tags on the clothing), they'll jump for it. Sure, there will be some local news stories about how scary this is and some people will spend lots of money removing the tags or buying devices to kill them, but most people just won't care.

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