Scenario: People interacting with other people because they know or remember them

When we meet our friends, family or colleagues, we recognise them on the basis of what they look, talk or move like; we know who they are and need no further authentication. New people introduce themselves to us and next time we see them we, hopefully, remember them. This interpersonal network also provides reputational measures of authentication. One example of this is when young people apply for a British passport for the first time, they need the ‘countersignatures’ of who has known them personally for at least two years to endorse the passport application form and passport photographs. A second example comes from Facebook which asks you – if your account has been hacked – to recognise three pictures of your ‘friends’ to prove that your profile is yours.

What is expected or explored for the future

  • It is expected that such interpersonal networks will remain important for authentication, especially as a fail-safe method when other authenticators have been corrupted.
  • In pop culture, we find all kinds of stories of how interpersonal authentication can be treacherous: people think they know or recognise someone, when – in fact – they are confronted with an imposter. These could be aliens, zombies or straightforward villains, as, for instance, in the Mission Impossible Unmasking Scenes. Science Fiction often presents a form of robot or artificial intelligence morphing into humans: think of the film Surrogates, about remotely controlled androids, or – a classic – The Matrix.
  • The digital avant guarde is experimenting with Life Logging and methods to construct a Quantified Self to maintain their identities. Both entail the ongoing digital capture of human behavioural and physiological data which together build a personalised and comprehensive track record of one’s identity.

Click on one of the concentric circles to find out what the future has in hold