"Is 'acceptably non-dystopian' self-sovereign identity even possible?"

An essay about self-sovereign identity, decentralized identity, verifiable credentials, soulbound tokens, and all those other terms that have been flying around lately.


The title comes from the May 2022 paper by Weyl, Ohlhaver, and Buterin titled "Decentralized Society: Finding Web3’s Soul", where they describe "soulbound tokens" and their vision for "Decentralized Society (DeSoc)". papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cf

my hopes for them coming up with a reasonable definition for "acceptably non-dystopian" are not high given this part of the paper



I've posted this on HN, will replicate here.

1) The trilemmas do not need to be *solved*. They just need to be *acknowledged* when you are designing your application so that people can understand the types of trade-offs being made. When sybil-resistance is not a required, you focus on privacy and decentralization. When sybil-resistance *is* required, you choose if you'll sacrifice privacy or decentralization.

Depending on the use-case, one might be preferred over the other.


2) "Security practices are hard, no one will do it properly, they will rather have some expert that can do it for them".

Well, if you don't want to deal with security hygiene, you delegate. Just like the majority of people will rightfully prefer to have a bank to manage most of their funds, one could still envision a future where service providers will act as a proxy to anything that requires "your" identity(ies).


In general, what upsets me with anti-web3 people is that they fall into the *same* trap as the maxis: they start from this ridiculous notion that "web3" is about creating a Highlander solution (there can be only one!) and that this solution needs to satisfy all constraints, otherwise it is rubbish that needs to be discarded.


The important thing by having decentralized identities is that it gives new *options* for whole new classes of applications that do not exist. No one is being forced to adopt a system just because it is now possible to do it on a blockchain, and we do not need to destroy the current systems if they work well - or at least if they work better than any alternative. There will be even plenty of cases where the status quo is totally fine.

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