The odyssey of Authentication

Digital Power and Control Amid The Days of Large Language Models

Sigrid Jin
2 min readAug 3, 2023

In the labyrinthine corridors of digital identity, there lies an unexplored tension between authentication providers and service providers. The fabric of our connected existence, interwoven with countless threads of authenticity, finds itself at a critical juncture, wrestling with questions that may dictate the architecture of our future.

The service providers, relying upon the benevolence of authentication providers, find themselves at the mercy of unseen forces. Such reliance on free provision of authentication keys, though virtuous, cannot be eternal. A time must come when even the providers of these keys seek expansion of their business, ultimately surrendering to the very dynamics they once seemed to transcend.

This realm of uncertainty engenders contemplations of the unoccurred. Deep understanding of user patterns and potential disputes with authentication providers opens the gates to hypothetical scenarios where the user might align with the service provider, even in the face of discomfort. The very act of handing over the power of authentication to a third party resonates with a truth about the nature of control.

There is a visceral feeling, an intuitive premonition, that the world will soon be a place where the power of authentication becomes paramount. When technology alone is the essence of authentication, harmony prevails. But once a provider grasps this authority, it transforms into a product, wielding power distinct from mere technology.

Considerations arise when the costs of implementing an authentication system for a specific purpose become too vast, surpassing the threshold of competitive advantage. A universal scenario begins to take shape in the mind’s eye.

Take, for instance, Sam Altman’s Worldcoin. Herein lies the need for a biometrically based authentication, expensive to construct, yet vital to prevent the leakage of service costs caused by automated artificial intelligence access. Should the fees demanded by Worldcoin be less than the essential authentication costs, payment becomes conceivable.

Worldcoin could shift its token distribution mechanism from society to the service provider, initiating attempts to monetize. Just as many services now protect data from AI by raising their API usage fees, so too Worldcoin could reflect these transaction costs in the purchase prices, increasing the cost of services to all users. Yet this path strays from Worldcoin’s original mission of wealth redistribution, mirroring a uniform value-added tax rather than progressive taxation.

Therefore, systems like Worldcoin may take the form of taxing only AI transactions, a kind of robot tax, if you will.

The extreme scenario we find ourselves pondering — the overwhelming power of authentication — creates a space for reflection upon current products and services. This is but a private speculation, a journey into the unknown that may diverge from future reality. However, it serves as a profound meditation on a world grappling with the metamorphosis of power and control, where authentication becomes not just a gatekeeper but a philosopher’s stone, capable of transforming the very essence of our interconnected lives.

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