Several years ago I read about something called limited liability identity. I thought it was one of the best ideas I'd heard in a very long time, so I wrote about it. I heard it from one of the partners at a company called Sxip. That company has died, but the idea lives on.
Recently I have restarted work on my sci-fi novel whose working title is 'Borky's Beach'. I would have liked to call it 'The Informationist' but that one's already taken. At any rate, it is about a panoptic, bioengineered utopian near future on the edge of collapse. I think it will be brilliant, but that's just me. One of the components of this future is LastID which is a combination of cyber-currency, panoptic marketing, federated identity and banking all based in part on the idea of limited liability identity. Well I talked to my co-worker at Full360, Rusty, over the weekend and he's telling me that a part of what this thing does is currently available.
So we're talking about two technologies that work to implement something that's actually very simple when you think about it. ApplePay and Vault are the two technologies. I'll describe it here with some language that I may repurpose for the book.
How it works is really simple. You have some fraction of your funds pre-allocated for impulse buying. So before you leave your house, because part of the security includes geolocation, you thumb your brick and tell it that you want to spend $100 over at the Panorama Mall. It generates some new 'credit card numbers' that are useful for about 6 hours, and then you just shop. After the time runs out, whatever is unspent goes back into your cash bucket. When you get to the mall you just pick up whatever you want in the stores. If you go over your impulse limit, your brick automatically checks to see if you can recategorize the purchase into your monthly budget. If you can, then it authorizes. If not, then you literally have to go back home and add cash. That's usually not a problem because you can put a hold on any merchandise in the whole supply chain for a small fee, and the sort of people who do this kind shopping without prepaid subscriptions are generally rich anyway. I mean why spend the time and money leaving your house to shop anyway?
So my new understanding is that Vault will work as an API that we can use to assign timed access and authorization to any resource under our management. If I want to authorize an ETL server to have access to a database server, I can provision it on demand. So this enables a new class of Lambda computing streams. Super cool.
ApplePay looks like a cool and crisp implementation of limited liability identity, which basically means what I said above. You don't have permanent credit cards, you have pre-authorized, expiring certs.Nice.