Normative Technologies and the Web

Kjetil Kjernsmo

Solid, credentials and DID

Acknowledges and works in the same problem space.

Some technologies are reused in Solid.

Some interoperability between them are likely.

The Case for Optimism

  • Exponential data growth
  • Often exponential uptake
  • Incumbent's useful stuff is a small part of the companies

Solid now

  • A thin layer on the Web
  • Adds
    • Identity and authentication (currently based on OIDC, designed to be open to others
    • Authorization frameworks (WAC has historical backing, ACP is new, possibly converging)
    • Knowledge graph
    • Basic hierarchical data organization, but open to better knowledge organisation
    • Notification

Solid Soon

  • Verifiable Credentials
  • Consent architecture (several proposals)
  • Query
  • Data validation

Personal Data Control

Will it set off a sociotechnological revolution?

Probably not...

Data Vault idea considered harmful

The big bank vault"The big bank vault" by BellaGaia is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

How do democracies make these calls?

Norms can emerge in many different ways

  • Laws
  • Religion
  • Culture
  • Technology

Technology does set norms

  • Anonymous vs pseudonymous or real identity influences behaviour
  • Balancing security needs.
  • An algorithm optimizing for engagement sets norms for public debate.
  • Autonomous Weapon Systems decide life and death

Technology creates de facto norms today

Introducing the concept of

Normative Technologies

  • technologies that have the potential to set societal norms
  • non-exclusive, everyone must have access as a right
  • open in the sense that everyone is entitled to understand them and participate in their construction.
  • development must be guided by legitimate governing bodies
  • concrete implementations are powerful, and therefore, it is important to have a tight feedback loop between implementers and other decision makers
  • citizens may reject technologies by not using them

Permanent Societal Institutions

  • Centre for Normative Technology Development
  • Oversight body

Centre for Normative Technology Development

  • To develop technology with a democratic mandate rather a commercial one
  • Very cross-disciplinary
  • set up for practical development
  • not a research institution
  • Legitimacy from Nation States or similar, but with international technological focus

Societal Scale Technologies

Technologies that are foundational across society

  • Identity
  • Shared data management
  • Knowledge organization
  • ...

Mechanisms for Good

Virtuous Circle

Where this ends...

but this is where it starts!

Thank you!