Thursday, April 16, 2009

Yes, but are you a prime-number?

I have a file number with the German Science Foundation, and an NSF ID. I have an username for the arXiv and a referee ID for PRD. I have a membership number for the APS and the DPG. I have not one, but three social security numbers. Likewise, I have three driver's license numbers. I have account numbers for the electricity company and for the phone company. I have several phone and fax numbers. I have credit card, swift and IBAN numbers, customer numbers, a passport number, a CAA member ID, frequent flyer numbers, health plan contract numbers, and insurance numbers. If you laid all of these numbers end to end, you'd get something close to the US financial deficit or so.

As far as I am concerned, everybody should get an universal ID number at birth. Period. It could be used as a phone number, as a webaddress, as a passport number. Just imagine that: newborns wouldn't get a wristband saying "Hello, my name is Desiree" but "Hey, I'm C3POR2D3X2PI." Cute! You can add that to my ideas how to improve the world.

But more seriously, for some while there's been talk about establishing a unique Researcher ID that would make a lot of this multiplicity in user- and file-numbers unnecessary, and also cure the problem of correctly identifying researcher's contributions if they have a common last name, or if they have changed their name. Chad had a poll yesterday about the recurring problem of correctly identifying an author. Martin Fenner has a good summary post on the Researcher ID, and he is also polling people for their opinions.

I previously commented in my post The Name Game that as much as I might be cursing my name (the full version in my passport is 30 letters long) at least I don't know anybody who shares it, and I usually don't even have to use initials. Stefan however, shares his name, first and last, with a Stefan Scherer from the University of Mainz who is also a Physicist. Not only is Mainz quite close to Frankfurt, the guy is also about the same age and works on an (at least peripherally) related topic. This has occasionally created some confusions. 

Thus, as far as I am concerned, having a unique Researcher ID it is an excellent idea and one that I'd like to see implemented rather sooner than later. It might however raise some unexpected questions. For example, who can apply for a researcher ID? Are there any criteria? Is there an age limit? Can I get a number for my unborn children? And more importantly, can I customize my number? Because, you see, I would really like to be a prime-number.


  1. Well, I'd think if VISA can do it, so can we.

  2. I think that anybody should be allowed to apply for a researcher ID without regard to their qualifications or publication record. It is not supposed to be an indicator of quality and you are only going to care about the IDs of authors that you actually read in any case. How this should be administered is another question.

  3. Why don't we just become machines? a bar code on our heads, just plug into the matrix and over!
    I've been 'codes' of this sort before, not a good idea...

  4. Right! Now to get governments worldwide to agree on a single system for numbering citizens and on institutional rules for administering that system indefinitely into the future.



  5. Universal ids = impersonalization of people = centralisation of power = totalitarianism = fascism

  6. Uh oh.

    "Q: (L) "And he was permitted to impart the breath of life into
    the Beast's image so that the statue of the beast could actually
    talk and to cause all to be put to death that would not bow
    down and worship the image of the beast." What does this
    A: Total control once deception is complete.
    Q: (L) "Compels all alike, both small and great, rich and poor,
    free and slave, to be marked with an inscription on their right
    hand or on their foreheads...." What is this inscription?
    A: Visa ID number.
    Q: (L) Is this going to be actually physically put on our bodies?
    A: Encoded.
    Q: (L) How? Is that what the aliens do when they abduct
    A: No.
    Q: (L) How is it going to be done?
    A: Stamped.
    Q: (L) By what technical means?
    A: Electronic encoding. A series of numbers.
    Q: (L) Are they going to put these on our skins or imbed them
    in the skin on our heads or hand...?
    A: Yes.
    Q: (L) Does that mean that you will have to place your hand
    on an electronic scanner in order to conduct any type of
    monetary transaction?
    A: Precisely.
    Q: (L) Okay, it says: "Here is room for discernment, a call for
    the wisdom of interpretation, let him who has intelligence,
    penetration, insight enough calculate the number of the Beast,
    for it is a human number, the number of a certain man, his
    number is 666. What does this mean?
    A: Visa as explained previously. Everyone will get their own
    number and it will be a Visa number, the number of the Beast.
    Q: (L) "Then I looked and Lo! the lamb stood on Mount Zion
    and with him 144,000 men who had his name and his father's
    name inscribed on their foreheads..." What does that mean?
    A: ID. The Lamb is the Leadership council of the world bank.
    Many will think they are taking the "mark" of God when actually being marked by the Beast."

  7. Dear Bee,

    funny that you mention the "other Stefan Scherer" ;-). Actually, the name is not that common - I just checked the German phonebook online, there are a bit more than 200 people with my name in total. And then there are two of them in theoretical nuclear physics in nearby universities! I should have made a systematical use of my middle initial ;-)

    Hm, some DOI like system open for everyone might indeed be a good idea.

    A bit off-topic, but related in a different context: France is introducing these days a new unique identification number for cars, which replaces the time-honoured system of license plates with the number of the Departement at the end. It seems that the name space has been exhausted.

    Cheers, Stefan

  8. Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a prime number...

  9. 7x10^9 people near enough. 10 numbers, 26 letters (no umlauts, cedillas, tildas... no diacritical marks). Twelve digits give 36^11 possiblities plus checksum for 10^17 entries (3x10^16 spares for naughty words - possibly selling for a premium). Good enough until a national legislature mixes overwhelming ignorance with overweening arrogance.

    What about non-latinate alphabets like Cyrilic, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Armenian, Klingonese? An alphabet outside a seven bar display is the problem not a solution.

  10. Hi Matt,

    I agree. I just wanted to raise the question because if somebody has to administrate it, then there's some incentive to not encourage too many people to overrun the registration. You could also have said anybody should be allowed to post on the arXiv without a record, but then we all know how that developed. Best,


  11. Hi George,

    Well, I guess it depends on how many IDs there are how many digits you'd need. If there's only one researcher, it can't be so hard to correct the number ;-) But yes, it's a good question.



  12. Giotis: You're paranoid. An universal ID has a priori nothing to do with centralization, and centralization isn't generically a bad thing either, and certainly not equal to facism. Take international air traffic as an example. They use common procedures, safety standards, codes, all over the world. But this is neither enforced through a central agency, nor does anybody in particular excert power. It's just simply used to minimize confusion and maximize smooth procedures. Same thing with the researcher ID.

  13. In the UK at least, Social Security numbers (known as National Insurance numbers) are assigned at birth, although they aren't normally divulged until the age of 16. When I moved to the Republic of Ireland a few years ago, I had to apply for a new number (local terminology = Provision of Public Services number). This got me thinking: why can't I use my existing number? Prefix it with a country code and it's unique and unambiguous.

    Of course in the USA, it's illegal to use social security numbers for other purposes. Something to do with privacy...

  14. John G,

    So your saying it's all in the translation?

    He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.– Rev. 13:16-17 NIVBest,

  15. So then we are identified according to a placement on the ulam spiral More in line with emergence from a numbred system contained in Pascal's triangle for what is to emerge?

    It's more then just a "commerce identification mark." It a "first principle identifier of the soul in a robotic culture." A soul that is emitting or reflecting very little light; "a dull glow"; "dull silver badly in need of a polish"; "a dull sky".

    "Heat only" from a "man made" power generator.


  16. So one can lead into "from magic square" to Pascal's triangle

  17. If I'm paranoid because I don't want to tag people like cattle then yes I am and I'm pround of it.

  18. Hi Bee,

    Even if not given one or it be known, not to worry as Google already has all our numbers :-)



  19. Indeed, Bee, it's evident that what Giotis clearly meant is “personality-erasure” feature of totalitarian regimes, rather than their political aspect with centralisation of power, etc. And here he's damn right about modern totalitarian tendencies: their intrinsic adherents and governors had understood that in an industrial world of relative material plenitude and globalised diversity of tendencies, the same purpose of once explicitly “centralised” and “ideologically” ordered simplification of human nature can be attained by other means, without any visible centralisation and ideology (even though a closer look can always reveal their modern “digital” analogies). One just needs to enforce that “unified digital classification” of everything: people, their thoughts and choices, scientific ideas, passions and preferences... Nobody will be physically “oppressed”, let alone killed or put in a concentration camp. Just no need for it when effectively the same purpose of putting everybody into an over-simplified framework of system-determined cells can be attained by externally much more “gentle” and dramatically more efficient ways. And you're right, Bee, they're doing it already on huge scales especially using, of course, today's total - or is it totalitarian? :) - computerisation of everything, where the explicit purpose of old-time “surveillance” is actually much less important than the simplified system framework as a whole. No way attaching personal “fascist” labels to its active or passive participants: it's the impersonal system that's actually the “boss” governing everything, while particular human chiefs are only its servants, so that eventually it can be surprisingly close to various anti-utopian fantasies about a big machine ruling the world of human slaves. Isn't it already the clearly perceived operation of today's politics, including most “democratic” regimes: simplified “system” domination over all human actors looking rather as “political puppets” and losing quickly even their “ideological” colours, let alone anything like “moral values” or “convictions”...?

    What about science, already totally dominated by numbers, of papers, references, contracts, remunerations, as you very convincingly describe here? Should this be the real, unique result of all your formally “creative” activity, as it happens now? What about real problem solutions, deep understanding progress, something that really merits to be conveyed to “future generations” (of humans!) and be of real interest to them? Those now dominating unitary “criteria of truth” in science lose any meaning immediately after the system stops artificially maintaining them on top. Really want to have your professional life result in the form of a pile of useless papers? Because that's what's really and exclusively supported in today's science system: just senseless numbers, at all levels. And they appear as meaningless even before you may start regretting it.

    Using increasingly and explicitly complex instruments to increase efficiency of practical life? Of course, why not, but without putting them on top of human purpose, which is always intelligence/complexity progress, in various versions. Doing it otherwise today just leads to all those “crises”, from finance to science to spirit (and those over-simplified “scientific” approaches being among major causes of today's financial crash - what a talking symbol!). That's why that “digital fascism” (modern way of natural complexity suppression, in all forms) cannot be successful in principle: it can only destroy civilisation it dominates, but can never give rise to a lasting, let alone sustainable development (by the way, it leads to ever greater destruction, instead of progress, also in today's unitary pseudo-ecology science and politics!).

    There is no problem with numbers as such, as there is no problem with money or nuclear energy: everything depends on how one tends to use them, so as to suppress or to develop unreduced dynamic complexity. Simplification often looks “easier” and thus wins leading to degradation, while complexity development needs explicitly creative efforts. For example, why looking honestly for a problem solution within a fair competition of ideas, when one can simply organise with other interested persons in a mutually (unconditionally) supporting “circle” of “best researchers” (hello “peer review”!) and grab all available science money without any need for any other talents! Difficult not to note that it is this “self-organisation talent” that dominates totally and completely the number-based operation of today's official science system. Hence the “end of science”, with many new problems but no new solutions... Just numbers. Fascism of numbers, killing major development perspectives of a whole civilisation.

    And you know, those now practically dead traditional “ideologies”, with their personalised leaders were of course often terrible but kind of humanly more “understandable” and “open”, than their impersonal (but very personal-interest-driven!) today's version. With old good dictatorship you can always organise a romantic resistance movement ending up in a triumphant victory over evil and making passionate history (and related great literature as a by-product). But how to fight against the omnipresent peer-review totalitarian system killing, with the help of its impersonal “identification numbers”, all new ideas much better than the hardest of traditional dictatorships?

    Venceremos, one day.

  20. Giotis: Point is, we ARE already tagged like cattle, just that we have a hundred different numbers all over us. You are hoping on confusion to save you from clarity that you are scared by. I am saying, clarity has more advantages than it brings disadvantages.

  21. Hi Phil,

    I wouldn't be so sure of that. Many companies, and especially those with sensitive information, use nets that are physically or at least logistically disconnected from the internet. If you know how to, you can probably hack into many of them, but Googling alone won't do the trick. While I know you'll be able to bring up a former cell-phone number of mine (was not listed, no clue how come) I'd be very surprised did you manage to come up with my account number for the electricity company, since their technology is so advanced they accept neither credit cards nor direct deposit. Best,


  22. Phil,

    Only in the world of Google?

    Gee Bee! I got a brief image in mind of "this cow with numbers all over it." May make a great picture for some artist:)


  23. Give everyone their permanent IPV6 address and be done with it.

  24. It's ok to use many numbers for various transactions because then you just use them for convenience. They can't identify you with them. It's totally different if you are attached to a universal generic number for all your activities. Then you become that number. Moreover it will be very easy for any kind of authority to monitor and control your life. What you are suggesting is an Orwellian nightmare and you better reconsider it.

  25. Giotis: Gosh, if you would switch off your nightmares for a moment we might maybe be able to have a constructive exchange. I told you already above your "equation" Universal ids = impersonalization of people = centralisation of power = totalitarianism = fascism has several weak links that you seem to be implying.

    It's ok to use many numbers for various transactions because then you just use them for convenience. They can't identify you with them. Who on Earth is "them"? If there is some "them" (the CIA? the alien mothership?) then "they" can certainly as well collect your various numbers. The difference is that you are the one who is wasting the precious time of his life by storing, filing, and remembering all these numbers. If you call your insurance company and the automatic menu asks you to punch in your customer number, you are not using this number "for convenience". You are simply using it because you have to. And you better have a letter at hand that has the stupid number printed on it.

    You seem to be assuming that having a universal ID would mean that all the information stored under this ID is accessible to (?) some evil big brother organization who is collecting all your data. Leaving aside that we're pretty close to this anyway, there is no reason why having a universal ID would mean anybody who uses this ID for whatever reason (say, your phone company, or the DMV) would have easier access to anybody else's data than is previously the case. It would just simply mean for you they wouldn't assign you a different number at every place, but it would simply be the same number. Best,


  26. I don't have any nightmares. You are the one that is living in a dreamy world.

    I already told you who is "them' but you refuse to understand and see that what you are proposing is unacceptable. "Them" is any kind of authority or power. Economical or political. This isn't a perfect world you know and sometimes governments, corporations etc abuse civil, privacy and human rights for their own interests. With a single number they could have access to all your personal data from your health record to what colour underwear you are wearing. Haven't you heard for example that private companies in UK hire detectives to investigate the life of the people they want to hire and gather huge amount of data records for all their activities? You want to make their life easier?

    Anyway I don't believe that I'm sitting here and talking with a grown educated woman that wants seriously to assign a serial number to every human being on the planet.

  27. Giotis: Haven't you heard for example that... - what I've been telling you is exactly that your 'nightmare' is already in place anyway, and what I'm suggesting makes it neither better nor worse. This isn't a perfect world you know and sometimes governments, corporations etc abuse civil, privacy and human rights for their own interests. - Yes, but this is the case anyway! You are talking about a problem that exists weather or not you have information stored under a single number (note again: *not* at a single place) or under two-hundred different numbers, because, "they" can easily find out all the different numbers anyway. But meanwhile, we have to go through life with this bunch of account and insurance numbers.

  28. Ok, so basically what you are saying is that if they rape you and you can't do anything about it at least try to enjoy it.

    Sorry I don't agree with such mentality.

  29. Hi Giotis,

    while I appreciate your concerns and in general it makes sense to use different keys for different rooms, please try to be a bit more moderate in your reactions and statements.


  30. Hi Giotis:

    Ok, so basically what you are saying is that if they rape you and you can't do anything about it at least try to enjoy it.No, what I am saying is that the vast majority of "intercourses" happens on mutual agreement between two parties who are working together because both have an interest in completing the transactions. Since our lives are getting ever more complex, the number of these transactions is constantly increasing and the overhead of just leading a life is getting ever more time-intensive. What I am saying is that these transactions could be significantly simplified to both side's advantage.

    There are of course the unfortunate cases in which one party deliberately attempts to induce pain or disadvantage on another party. What I have been telling you several times is that these cases, sadly enough, exist and will continue to exist and we can only do the best to avoid them, with or without a universal ID. But the vast majority of people on this planet are honest, obey laws, and have no intentions of deliberately betraying somebody else - they just try to get through life with a minimum of pain and effort.

    You on the other hand are trying essentially to avoid rape by outlawing lubricants. You aren't aiming at the central problem.

    If you would get across your animosity that isn't based on any real argument so far, we could maybe move on and have a useful exchange about what the general questions are of accumulating personal data. The one is certainly respect for privacy rights. The other one is identity theft which Stefan seems to be hinting at. Again, please note the question how to verify an identity is a big issue already, but it is so whether or not an ID number was universal. The main issue with presently used verification schemes that I see is that they are mainly document- or memory based, and using different numbers for different purposes is apparently not a very good security measure. One would hope that in the future one could have a procedure that provides more security.



  31. Hi Bee,

    I really didn’t mean they knew everything about everybody or rather just what you, I or anyone of us on the outside looking in can do. Actually it’s more about what they would be capable of if they had a mind to. For the time being I take Sergey and Larry at their word in them “doing no evil“. The truth is they are so plugged into the information highway and have such a significant part of the infrastructure along with being a bit more then a little bright I wouldn’t deny that they could find out just about anything about any individual or group if they wanted to. To tell you the truth I wonder more about their own safe guards about someone inside or outside using this ability for no good. As for a personal I.D. we already have one being our genome with a scanner coming to a party near you with help from guess who ? ;-)



  32. I was once at a conference in which three out of four of the presenters in a session were some version of Anuk Aggarwal. I think there was an Anuk Aggarwal, an Anook Agarwal and an Anouk Agarwall. One of them cited yet another author in the field, also an Anuk Aggarwal, though no one could agree on the spelling.

    Having universal ids does raise some problems though. For example, would Nicolas Bourbaki be able to get an ID?

  33. Hi Stefan,

    I don't know exactly what bothered you from what I said but I suggest to read the thread again. There you'll see that Bee called me paranoid out of the blue. I on the other hand, chose not to respond to the insults. So calling *me* back to order is unfair to say the least. Bee is the one that should moderate her reactions.


  34. Hi Giotis,

    To be specific what about being able to be easy identified do you have problem with; is it that someone may steal your identity, or learn something about you that you rather not have certain people know? Personally I wasn’t kidding when I said we should be identified by our DNA only as soon as possible and to outlaw cloning as the personal right that we remain unique, unless of course it occurs naturally as being an identical twin.

    Actually I’m with Bee on this, in realizing that as member of society it is a requirement that others know who we are whether we like it or not. To look at it the other way that’s why each of us has eyes and ears in the first place, so we can make such distinctions before we interact.

    As for Big Brother that’s always been with us and as individuals we have little defence against an evil one. It is only collectively we can guard against such abuse through the institutions we have created that are to serve us. Therefore I think one should be more concerned with the openness and transparency of government and institutions and realize that anonymity can neither be truly had or has any use or value in protecting our freedoms, unless they being so we might act irresponsible in full protection.

    So I look forward to the day that we can all be clearly identified with a system that assures it be me and only me, for that as I see will better assure that my rights and freedoms can be best protected and that accountability is an unavoidable consequence and not simply an option.



  35. Hi Phil,

    While I think you are right that the DNA is a natural ID we already have, the question is how practicable it is. Somewhat off topic but there has been a recent case in Germany in which DNA samples were found to match in more than 40 different criminal cases over 2 years. The newspapers spoke of "The Phantom." Turned out in the end, the DNA (very probably) had nothing to do with the crimes whatsover but came from cotton swaps police shouldn't have used for such a sensitive purpose. "The Phantom" was just some women working in a factory wrapping the swaps. (See Wikipedia: The Phantom of Heilbronn). That having been said, it will take quite a while until DNA tests will be quick, easy, and foolproof. Best,


  36. Phil, do you want anyone to know the books you are reading? I'll give you a simple example.

    Bob goes to the public library and borrows let's say the "Capital" of Carl Marx. He uses for this transaction (as Bee suggests) his universal unique id.

    Next month Bob applies for a job position in a big corporation. For the job application he uses again his universal id since this the only way a person can be identified in this fearful world. The company finds out from this number that Bob has borrowed the "Capital" from the public library. They figure out that this Bob guy maybe a commie and he could create them all short of troubles. As a result Bob stays out of a job.

    The worst part though is not what the company will or will not do. The worst part is that people will have the impression that with this unique number they are being constantly monitored and this will alter their natural behaviour. So Bob will not borrow the "Capital" of Carl Marx because he would fear that this could be seen in his record and thus he will not be able to find a job.

    Do you understand now where this could lead?

  37. Hi Giotis,

    I called you paranoid because you were concluding from a post on a researcher ID that I'm advocating fascism in a stunning example of an "equation", and because you keep talking about "them" and some unnamed "authorities" that would monitor and control our lives. I didn't mean that as an insult, I am sorry and apologize if you percieved it as such, that wasn't my intention. I'd call myself paranoid, just in somewhat other regards.

    What probably put off Stefan is your refusal to consider your "equation" has several broken links and to disentangle different issues as I have pointed out several times. Instead, you largely ignore what I say, and accuse me of "living in a dreamy world" because you have created an unspecified "Orwellian nightmare," an obvious case of building a straw man. Instead of clarifying what the pro and con arguments are, you state you "don't believe that [you are] talking with a grown educated woman," a completely unnecessary and pointless attempt to question my credibility.

    Unfortunately, this exchange is exactly the reason why I feel that I am wasting my time with blogging, because we haven't managed to extract the central arguments and move on from this because you can't get over some uncanny feeling the word 'universal ID' is raising. I am genuinely sorry about this to be honest, because I had gotten to know you as an interesting and usually constructive commenter on our blog. I have no clue what's gone wrong here. Best,


  38. Hi Giotis:

    regarding you recent comment (it crossed with mine), don't you see that you are talking about a different problem as I have pointed out several times? You are assuming that just because Bob borrowed a book using his ID, the company he later applies for has access to this information. The issue here is not the universal ID, but who has access to what information stored under this ID. And, to repeat what I have said several times now, the problem you consider does already exist anyway. Best,


  39. Bee and Giotis, you concentrate both on a false “main” aspect of a problem. Your “easy” way to make life better, Bee, is certainly illusive (it should be: there's no easy and right ways!), but of course not because of any “political” dangers specified by Giotis. It's not feasible directly (as you seem to assume). All those numerous “owners” of respective “personal numbers” attributed to you want certainly to be independent from other number owners and this independence is generally correct and irreducible. If something happens with your universal number while dealing with one agency, can you imagine the number of induced complications in your relations with other agencies (having nothing to do with the origin of a problem)? Multiply it by number of users and agencies and their relations: infinity and related infinitely hard problem. The only solution possible if you still insist on a universal number is to create the corresponding universal agency dealing specifically with universal numbers and explicitly recognised by (and working in close contact with) all particular agencies. This solution is multiply used for relatively universal “labels” like passports or credit cards. In the latter case it explains why one should have a special credit card company, instead of dealing only with banks and payment receivers, the only direct transaction participants. But once you create such a universal agency responsible for a universal number/label and thus inevitably “controlling” all other agencies, you do have problems of “too concentrated power” and not only in a vulgar “political” sense of “personal freedom” (which is of course but another, particularly illusive “label” always controlled by their centralised structures... :) ), but in a much more practical sense of extremely difficult and therefore unstable technical control of such hyper-complex (and always increasingly complex!) interaction system. Already today problems with even the most powerful credit card systems, especially when cards are used abroad, are well known, while China and India are yet only slightly warming up... In practice, one would eventually think of a universal combination of a quick “physiological” marker (finger-prints, etc.) and an “advanced” universal electronic passport, instead of a universal “number”, but with the same, equally “desperate” problem. In any case, people will hardly risk it, on a world's scale, already for subjective reasons (rather justified), even if an allegedly “reliable” technical solution could be proposed.

    But while your solution, Bee, is illusive, you are certainly right about the problem: this otherwise externally comfortable, “paradise” life of industrial unitary (“Western”) system becomes increasingly annoyed by a dangerously growing hierarchy of practically indispensable “labels”, where personal numbers constitute only one subset, among so many other “user guides” transforming that presumably ever better life into a nightmare of permanent - and increasingly sophisticated - technical work (becoming a yet greater nightmare when concentrated in service-providing agencies). Humans are transformed into zombie calculating machines, which in addition can hardly work efficiently, and this is a “natural”, inevitable result of a development way, rather than a sophisticated private conspiracy (which also exists, of course, in many versions, but simply contributing to the same, mainly “natural” problem). It can be considered as the true, fundamental origin of today's financial crash, among other equally serious catastrophes (e.g. in today's industrial-feudal science system). Either personal consumption/activities or their “corporate” management become really too “cumbersome”, only theoretically “controllable”, but practically “escaping” all efforts and in addition spoiling the whole pleasure of Western paradise! On that background, those “political” problems of too much control become rather redundant: everything falls down even before and apart from them! (After which the idea of truly hard and truly simple, now explicitly totalitarian control emerges as the only possible practical solution, in the resulting state of devastation.) I also think that the famous Western - and now world-wide - “isolation” of people and families also has this less noted but eventually maybe more important origin: that would-be “nice” life becomes so (individually) “technically complicated”, already in its minimal, “personal” dimensions, that even simple inter-personal interaction, beyond superficial “professional” modes, becomes increasingly unreal and undesirable, starting from ever younger ages.

    So the problem is there and is very fundamental, on its true scale. However, contrary to straightforward intuition, one should look for a solution of this “excessive complexity” problem not in the direction of simplification - that's your (and others') illusion, Bee - but in the opposite direction of essentially greater complexity of (social and private) life organisation and ... understanding, of course! The problem itself of “too many numbers” can be formulated as a conflict between the growing - and desired - complexity of personal and collective needs/interactions (i.e. “life” as a whole) and the maximum possible complexity of the dominating unitary system of life organisation (which has never changed, fundamentally, starting from primitive man or even ape communities). There is simply no way to exceed these fundamental limits while remaining within this system, irrespective of (unitary!) computer power applied. Either one should stop development (and then inevitably fall back to its lower levels), or pass to its qualitatively higher, very differently organised (higher-complexity!) level, where these lower-level problems won't exist as such, while other problems replacing them will find feasible and sustainable solutions. Once you are ready to go there, these ones can be suitably specified (a subject of special efforts!).

    For a tentative thinking, one may ask oneself, what is the final purpose of all those excessive “labels”: it's certainly not the labels themselves and not even any promised “bonuses”, etc. (“efficiency”). The purpose is the given and taken (quality) service itself: neither you, nor them don’t need your “user number”, both only need you taking their service and the fixed fact of you (a person, most often without identity) having done so. Maybe you could just take the service (your “hello” being the only necessary “number”) and leave fixing the fact to computers, in an explicitly hugely overproducing society (and having major problems because of that, within today's system)? Of course, many things should be changed in organisation, habits and the whole “environment”, but if you think it over, the practical, net result of today's “developed” unitary system is often reduced to something like that, already now. We only have many actually unnecessary, but system-necessary, humanly redundant intermediating (= parasitic) “features” and “labels” to be dealt with, “just to maintain the system” (that doesn't work any more, in addition!). The fact that related problems become really “pressing” now only shows that we are not far from the revolutionary transition to the “true”, sustainable solution but at a superior level of complexity and ... closely related happiness, now liberated from all their mechanistic labels and stupid rules! And to avoid any misunderstanding, it's all rigorously, mathematically derived, of course, beyond any subjective “hopes” and ... artificially reduced mathematical “models” just corresponding to - and actively used by - the current, explicitly failing unitary system (and its equally failing unitary science).

    So girls, if you are really so strong as you describe in you “equality” doctrines, then the really important question is: are you ready for a revolution (boys will join, hopefully :) )?! Because you know, your dangerously decadent society and its decadent science are more than ready for a big change... Now, Bee, you can't say it's a waste of time, solution of problems of THAT global scale here, on your small scientific blog?! :) Just relax, children: as only paranoids are of interest! :)

  40. Bee said: “But the vast majority of people on this planet are honest, obey laws, and have no intentions of deliberately betraying somebody else - they just try to get through life with a minimum of pain and effort.” ... where the latter just leads directly to the former and we thus obtain dishonest, criminal, treacherous people ... “trying to get through life with a minimum of pain and effort”. :) Where's the “logical” mistake? Instead of minimizing pain and effort, try to maximize pleasures, stupid! The only problem is that the difference between “minimizing efforts” and “maximizing pleasures” exists only there where it exists, in very few exceptions... :( Others are quite naturally and definitely oriented to a fixed and conserved sum of efforts and pleasures they take for happiness. It's interesting that before it used to be different and that's why there was some progress. But now the “sum” has attained its local maximum, therefore conserved ... until it starts decaying, without a major upgrade to a higher level.

    Bee said: “I'd call myself paranoid, just in somewhat other regards.” Let me guess ... feminism and social democracy? :) You see yourself that it's better to relax with all those “isms” and “labels”, for everybody (and thus accept them easily, as a small noise): they're all just useless and senseless shadows of an ending world. It's still formally there, with all its shadows, but already without the power to create and progress and bring happiness, the only kind of real power that can ever exist.

  41. First of all I never said that you advocate fascism. That's your conclusion. I just wanted to show roughly (and I admit I exaggerate on this) where the impersonilization of people and the accumulation of power could lead. It's a typical characteristic of totalitarian regimes. So nothing to do with you.

    Second. I didn't questioned your credibility. On the contrary I said that, exactly because I know you are an educated woman I find it hard to believe that you advocate this position.

    Third. If someone calls you paranoid there is only one way to perceive it I think.

    As for the issue of the universal id itself, let's say that we are from different worlds and what seems natural to you it seems monstrous to me.

    Finally when we exchange opinions it is not necessary to reach a conclusion or an agreement or worse to impose our position to the other. We present arguments and the readers can decide for themselves. The point is to present arguments and I think I have done that. Hearing what the other side has to say about an issue is always good. It may not change your position but it will certainly make you think. You can always gain something from a discussion even if it is badly structured. So I wouldn't say that it's a waste of time.

    Anyway no hard feelings. Cheerio.

  42. Bee: "regarding you recent comment (it crossed with mine), don't you see that you are talking about a different problem as I have pointed out several times? You are assuming that just because Bob borrowed a book using his ID, the company he later applies for has access to this information. The issue here is not the universal ID, but who has access to what information stored under this ID. And, to repeat what I have said several times now, the problem you consider does already exist anyway"

    I forgot about your last comment that you keep repeating.

    Here are some points although I think I've already answered:

    1) By storing all your transactions under one number you make it extremely easy for any authority to monitor your activities for its own interests. I don't think we should have blind faith to any state.

    2) Nobody can guarantee that other identities (e.g. corporations) will not have access to information they shouldn't have access too. Even if this already happens as you said this way you magnify the problem.

    3) Your proposal leads naturally to a giant complicated mechanism necessary to administer your personal information. It will be very difficult for the citizen to control or have access to this mechanism. It will be something like a black box.

    4) The state acquires an enormous power and control over the simple citizen by controlling centrally all his records. Imagine as a simple example that a bank refuses you a loan because you have unpaid traffic tickets.

    5) If there is a unique number for every transaction nobody can guarantee what kind of information that you are not aware of could be accumulated in the system.

    6) Most importantly consciously or unconsciously people will alter the natural behaviour under the fear that they are monitored even if they are not. Using this fear you assure an obidient citizen without even bother to monitor him.

  43. Under a watchful eye how is it you can ever be you if you choose to be different. Practise artist adventure "in-creativity" that does not set well with the governing privy counsel:)

    More to the truth then.

    A device, that reveals what "colour of gravity" means as you display your patronage in thought. More to the "signature of your soul being," that while thinking genome, it's more what you like to do with this physiological makeup and brain, that reveals the true nature of the individual in full regalia.

    A lie detector. No. Something much more substantial in this device as the defendant sits under sworn testimony.

    So while DNA is a match as to location, it does not really reveal the intention. "Me" seems to be a ego orientated word about identification.

    If you are perspective enough the name has no meaning other then to identify the person, yet, you are more then the name.

    As long as you blog under google are your written ramblings yours? It doesn't matter if you know this.:)

    Google may not like what you have in comments so they can erase them?:)Not a question of "ethical standard" but of what can protect their business? You see?


  44. Hi Giotis,

    To your points 1)-5) depend very strongly on how such a system was realized and implemented. You seem to be assuming it must be generally for the worst, no matter how the details would look like. There is however, as I mentioned several times before, no necessary relation between the problems you are seeing and a universal ID.

    1) Whether it becomes easier or more difficult for one authority to gain access to all data depends on the privacy rights, I said this earlier. Whether a new system would increase or decrease the risk this happens depends on the security measures. It is far from clear a universal ID generally must be increasing the risk, this is a matter of how to. Please note that the present security measures are certainly not the best either, there's lots to improve.

    2) I personally think the risk this happens is much higher if there is a general level of confusion and fuzziness around a system that can easily be exploited by those who know how to, in many cases without this violation being apparent or trackable exactly because of this fuzziness.

    3) Likewise, the present system is complicated already, using a single identification mechanism would make it easier. I already said above that this doesn't mean administration of all data is centralized.

    4) I already said several times that you are assuming incorrectly that I am suggesting information should suddenly become available to bodies that previously did not have access to sensitive information.

    5) This doesn't have anything to do with whether there is one number or three dozens of them.

    6) If you look at a tiny bit of contemporary history you could conclude easily that this isn't the case. People are monitored nowadays as they have never been before. Every link they click is stored somewhere and they don't even know where or by whom. Every step they make is recorded by a camera, and they don't know who is watching. And fact is, they just don't give a shit and continue with their life.

    That having been said, these are of course valid concerns that any such system should addressed. I am certainly not dismissing them out of hand, I just see more opportunities for improvement than you do.


  45. This is hilarious. When I read the topic, the first thing I thought was, "ohh, I bet this'll bring the crazy comments out!" And indeed it did. I was even counting how many comments until there was a 666 reference.

    Although, it's sad that people actually think like this.

  46. Personally I get my 666ish information via a channeler who was written about by Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas French. She's the wife of physicist Ark Jadczyk. No more crazy than Michio Kaku.

  47. I think we've reached a point where the discussion cannot move forward since your arguments depend highly on the way this thing will be implemented. I say that potentially such a system imposes a severe threat for civil and privacy rights and certainly impersonalise people. You say that potentially and if it is implemented in the right (perfect) way it could make things better. I tend to disagree -having in mind that the risk is much higher than any potential benefit- but I can't analyse further an imaginary system with such fuzzy rules of operation and we don't have a working model in our hands to deduce a safe conclusion.

  48. Hi Giotis & Bee,

    Sometimes I think there are those that read this blog to look for stories to write. Anyway as can be seen the use of DNA to become our universal number is already well underway and instead of wondering whether or not we should have one we should be more concerned how those that serve us plan to protect and safeguard it.

    Giotis I really do believe there is a connection between those that insist on anonymity being protected and those that resist what is being suggested here are often representing the same group. What I find difficult to understand is why people fear being recognized, particularly when at the same time they hold strong opinion. The way I was raised if you had something to say, especially if it involved protecting others then standing up to be recognized was part of the process in weighing if you should be taken seriously.

    As for paranoia I think it is undeniable that this has risen dramatically in the overall population and I also firmly believe that the rising preference for anonymity and practice as a tactic is clearly symptomatic of this. One thing for sure, I think it should be given much more serious study for if anything should be a concern is to determine or not if this is true and what the true causes and cures might be. That is what could be more important then the general mental soundness and fitness of our society and population?


  49. Hi Plato,

    “Google may not like what you have in comments so they can erase them?:)Not a question of "ethical standard" but of what can protect their business? You see? “

    It is interesting you should question this for when it comes to security one should start at home. Recently I’ve been using Google Chrome (latest beta version) as a browser which as one of its advanced security features lets one know if there might be any malware threats when logging onto a site. When I attempt to log onto eskethai.blogspot (dot) com I get a warning screen like this informing that this site may host elements of malware that originated from wizzcomputers(dot)com . You might like to track down the validity and nature of this? So you may have big brother watching or big brother protecting either way the best that can be done is to take steps to better insure the transparency and openness of all involved.



  50. Hi Phil,

    Thanks for the heads up. It was a script that was not function able in the logo badges on the right.

    It was an ole script that was not removed that was not working I had forgotten about. Since I use Firefox some of the adds on do not work as they move ahead on their improving designs.

    Security is good there too although I would not rely on any of them. An all around security program that watches all of this for sure.

    So sure, security at home, meaning all business proposals even like Microsoft are offering a protection to a secure experience on the net. Emails

    Retaining "good health" against any virus is important. Could you check again for me?


  51. Now that you mention it Phil, it seems strange that Google since hosting Blogs that while we use it, it seems very strange that they do not have this warning embedded in the development aspect presented here, as it could effect advertising?:)


  52. Hi Plato,

    I opened your web site and the warning was no longer there, so it all seems clear. By the way I’m still evaluating Google Chrome with it looking good so far. To tell you the truth I still lament the demise of Netscape with Microsoft’s foul play. I have been using Firefox myself until recently and while Chrome is much cleaner in a strange way I miss all the clutter. This security feature seems to be a good and only one that a search provider could pull off as they are the only ones continuously crawling the web, well at least among those that we are aware  The problem being of course is success for Google could spell trouble for Firefox.



  53. The "Hugo" award in science-fiction is named for the editor Hugo Gernsback, who wrote a rather bad science-fiction novel called "Ralph 124C41+". One of his predictions for future society was, as the title suggests, that people would be assigned unique identifying numbers as well as personal names. (I call the novel bad because of its literary quality, not for its ideas, although the shortness of the number he chose for his protagonist makes that particular idea seem not to have been well thought-out. Or maybe only certain people got numbers; it has been about 50 years since I read the book.)

    That sounds a bit negative, but my intent was to point out that your idea was shared by "The Father of Science-Fiction".


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