William Adams talks about locks, badges, passwords, and other security devices that help him sleep. It’s a really interesting read, and is a perfect example of the mind state of someone who is off-the-scale ‘N’ Meyers-Briggs type (NT or NF I cannot decide). People who take personality tests on the Internet score ‘N’ more frequently than normal people do, but I believe that this is as much the result of self-scoring as a matter of fact. Many people consider themselves to be much more ‘iNtuitive’ than they actually are. William is a useful yardstick against which to guage how ‘N’ you really are.
Anyway, I have a bit of a different opinion about all of these security devices. When you think about it, all of these things are simply surrogates for your identity. They are stand-ins for who you are.
To prove that you are the person permitted to enter the house, you have a key. To cause the alarm system to trust you, you depend on a numeric code. To prove that you are permitted to withdraw money from your bank account, you provide a PIN and card. To get your office building to let you through the door, your face is no good, it only trusts your magnetic swipe card.
Now, the problem here is that our creations exist to serve us, not the other way around. Think of what happens when a four-star general enters a room of lieutenants. They salute; no questions asked. None of this ?Sir, please provide me your papers, and your six-digit PIN, to prove that you are really the General?. I want to be a four-star general to my car; it belongs to me! When I tell it to drive, it should just say ?where to, sir??; no questions asked. Instead it demands a key. Who’s giving the orders here?!?
I’m insulted every time I have to swipe my badge to get into the building — how many times have I been through that same door, and yet it still fails to recognize me? It places more priority on a little piece of magnetized plastic than it does on me! The disrespect never gets easier to handle; I sometimes feel like screaming at the door ?Don’t you know who I am!!?. But yet it sits there passively, stupidly, blinking at me with that one ignorant red light.
And worse; these tokens can lie. Now I have to lay awake, worried that someone might steal my identity. I’ve already had this happen numerous times. If someone takes my car key, they can rack up speeding tickets in my name and wear my dry cleaning around the town. Entire networks of scoundrels exist who band together to take posession of your more valuable identity tokens, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, and bank account numbers. If you use any of these tokens of identity, there is a very good chance that at least some of them have been 0wned, and a slightly smaller chance that they’ve been used to lie and perhaps even steal your posessions. And even if your tokens aren’t stolen, it’s still very easy to lose your badge and end up relying on the good graces of strangers to let you into your building (your own building!).
If you think about it, no human being in his right mind would willfully consent to being shackled by such inept surrogates of identity. Our great grandfathers relied only on their good names, and did just fine. So why is it that we are buried beneath ever-greater numbers of identity tokens, gamer tags, PIN numbers,stock trade record numbers, phone card numbers?Only bankers or sophisticated criminal syndicates could be expected to keep track of this much complexity!! And maybe that’s the idea. It takes away the hard work of managing our own lives — the banks will simply tell us what ourbumbling golems have purchased (whether we remember it or not), and all we have to do is pay the bill. Now if only I could get my badge to write specs for me…