In some ways the traditional notions we hold of privacy are currently holding us back. They are preventing us from taking full advantage of the possibilities that technology is making available to us right now.
I genuinely foresee a point in time where we will overcome such social stigmas (this really is all it is) and experience the benefits that will come, only from truly embracing all that technology can offer us.
So how do we get from point A to point B?
Currently we strictly control who has access to our personal data. We painstakingly and meticulously specify which websites can access what data and are regularly asked to give permission / authorise and sign-in on a daily basis. We default to 'not sharing' and are suspicious (usually rightfully so) of any requests for details that are not giving us what we asked for. Services relating to health, wealth and security among others are slow and painful to authenticate to and only relate to each other when we go out of our way to inform and advise. We settle for sub-optimal performance as we do not know anything better.
How does this compare to 'Point B'? By the time we reach this stage we can expect all services with which we interact to be uniquely personalised. It would be considered normal that all shops recognise us and offer relevant promotions with clothing shops showing styles modelled by us, content which is interesting to us will be presented from all media outlets and systems which required manual configuration previously just to "work" will instead seamlessly operate based on any interaction we make with any other equipment or system. If we choose to purchase a new fridge then our car, TV and alarm clock should know about it and shops should stop trying to sell us one. Our home power management systems of the future should be able to tell when we are out, our heating should self adjust, windows should close and the premises should automatically become secured.
These are basic examples, but you get the idea.
How do we then achieve this huge leap of faith from not wanting anyone to know what TV programs you like to allowing any relevant service to access that data?
The two stage solution...
I believe that due to our learnt behaviour of being 'inherently suspicious' the majority of us will need to do this in two stages.
Firstly we would use an online avatar to represent us that has no known link to our real identity. This avatar can be customised and will allow us to choose to add more understanding and know-how over a period of time without completely signing over access to everything about us. As this avatar becomes more useful and effective we may then come to reach a point where some brave souls volunteer for the second stage which is to give this online avatar our 'real life' identity. Building trust like this may take time but will give a strong foundation to build upon.
At this point the GUID (Global unique ID) relating to our avatar would instead become linked to our actual self and with less manual effort our behaviour would lead to point B and the ideal symbiosis of technology and personality could be achieved.
Some cultures may find it easier to jump directly to this second stage due to cultural differences in upbringing and behaviour, this could potentially lead to an advantage to those who 'let go' sooner over those who need to take a longer, winding path to reach the same almost inevitable conclusion.
Orwellian? Yes maybe, but what can we achieve once we focus beyond our traditional notions of the self?...