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The Power of Digital Identity in the Web3 Era

S8 Ep1 with Sandy Carter, COO of Unstoppable Domains

The podcast episode is the first episode of Season Eight of Crypto Sapiens, hosted by Rachel. The focus of this season is community building, education, and bringing people together in the Web3 and BanklessDAO ethos. Rachel expresses her gratitude to the team behind the project and sets the stage for the expectations of the season.

Unstoppable Domains: Empowering Digital Identity Ownership

The guest for the first episode is Sandy Carter from Unstoppable Domains, and the topic of discussion is digital identity. Sandy introduces Unstoppable Domains, a company founded in 2018 with the mission to build a digital identity platform. In a web2 world, digital identity is tied to platforms like Google or Facebook, where users log in with a username and password, but the data collected belongs to the platform. In contrast, in Web3 and with digital identities, the data belongs to the user, who has control over who sees it and for how long. Sandy mentions using a digital identity like "Sandy.NFT" to log into various applications and resolve multiple wallets.

The episode emphasizes education, inspiration, and sharing knowledge with the community. The host and guest aim to educate listeners about digital identity and its power to connect, express, and empower individuals in the digital world.

Sandy emphasized that Unstoppable Domains, founded in 2018 and aiming for unicorn status in 2022, focuses on digital identity. They believe that digital identity should be a human right. In a web2 world, when users sign in using a username and password on platforms like Google, Facebook, or TikTok, their digital identity is tied to those platforms, and the platforms own the data collected, often profiting from it. In contrast, Unstoppable Domains aims to empower individuals in a Web3 world where users own their data. With a digital identity like "Sandy.NFT," users can sign into over 800 applications, resolve wallets, and have control over their data, deciding when, how, and with whom to share it.

Sandy expressed her excitement about this concept and mentioned the possibility of demonstrating how it works during the conversation with Rachel.

In response to Rachel's question about digital identity and how Unstoppable Domains contributes to enhancing it, Sandy provides a high-level explanation. She shares a visual representation of digital identity in the Web3 world, which resembles a LinkedIn page but contains verifiable information.

Web3's Paradigm Shift: User-Controlled Digital Identity

Sandy emphasizes that the data collected in a digital identity belongs to the individual, not the platforms. With her digital identity, "Sandy.NFT," she can sign into various applications such as Cook Finance, Atlantis Metaverse, Snook, and Atari. Sandy mentions the integration of her digital identity with a Ready Player Me avatar, which works in over 7,000 metaverses. She also highlights the connection of her digital identity to multiple wallets, enabling her to make real-life purchases with crypto, such as buying something in a store in Las Vegas.

The visual representation showcases a token gallery where digital collectibles are stored, including items like Boss Beauty or tokens that represent voting in a DAO. Sandy mentions her commitment to the environment by purchasing a tree for every NFT she acquires, making her actions align with her support for climate initiatives. Other features include badging, messaging friends, displaying featured collections like Mona Lisa, and showcasing one's Web3 brand.

Sandy concludes by highlighting the power and branding opportunities that come with a digital identity in the Web3 landscape, where individuals have control over their data and can curate and display it as they see fit.

Sandy explains how digital identity intersects with NFTs by highlighting that a digital identity is like a super NFT. It contains content from other tokens that an individual has collected, making it a comprehensive representation of their digital presence. The digital identity also includes badges representing communities that the individual is associated with, providing additional functionality and branding opportunities. Regarding the backup of credentials in case a wallet is compromised, Sandy clarifies that Unstoppable Domains focuses on pulling data from the wallet and displaying it in the digital identity profile. However, if a wallet has been compromised, it is a separate issue that needs to be addressed with the wallet provider. Unstoppable Domains incorporates both on-chain and off-chain data in the profile, including social media data and website links, creating a combination of data sources for a comprehensive digital identity.

Indeed, Unstoppable Domains aims to empower individuals to represent their authentic selves and connect with communities they are passionate about. Sandy shares the recent launch of domain extensions like .anime and .manga, catering to the massive community of anime and manga fans, which numbers around 2.9 billion people worldwide. She emphasizes the importance of embracing the complexity of identity and enabling individuals to express various aspects of themselves, whether it's through PFPs, domains, decentralized identifiers, or verifiable credentials.

Humpty expresses his excitement as a fan of anime and manga and praises Unstoppable Domains for pushing the boundaries of digital identity in the web space. Sandy reciprocates the enthusiasm and shares a story about witnessing the dedication of anime fans in a line in Times Square, which inspired the creation of the .anime and .manga domain extensions.

The conversation highlights the significance of allowing individuals to showcase their passions and interests, fostering a sense of belonging and authenticity in the digital world.

Addressing Challenges: Verifying, Detecting, and Combating Fake Identities

Sandy highlights some of the major challenges in current digital identity systems and how Unstoppable Domains aims to address them. One challenge is distinguishing between a digital identity representing a person and one representing a bot. With Web3 technologies, such as KYC (Know Your Customer) checkers, it becomes possible to verify and confirm the identity of a real person. This helps combat the prevalence of bots across the internet.

Another challenge is the rise of fake identities and deep fakes, which can be used for fraudulent purposes or misleading information. Unstoppable Domains recognizes this issue and has filed a patent for technology aimed at identifying fakes early on. By leveraging advancements in AI and combining them with Web3, it becomes possible to detect and distinguish between genuine and fake digital identities.

Sandy emphasizes the importance of the convergence of AI, Web3, and the Metaverse. This convergence has the potential to bring significant advancements in security and the ability to create and utilize real, trustworthy digital identities. Unstoppable Domains intends to explore and utilize AI further in the realm of security to enhance digital identity verification and combat the challenges posed by fakes and fraudulent activities. Unstoppable Domains aims to empower individuals and organizations to take control of their digital identities, ensuring privacy, security, and trust in an evolving digital landscape.

Transparency and Consent: User Control in Data Sharing

Sandy explains that one of the key measures in place to prevent the misuse of personal data with digital identities is the user's control over data sharing. When logging into an application using a digital identity, the application must explicitly request permission to access specific data, such as email, location, or age. Users have the ability to grant or deny permission for each data request, giving them upfront knowledge of the information they are sharing.

This approach ensures transparency and empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their personal data. By controlling data sharing, users can mitigate the risk of their information being misused or inundated with unwanted marketing communications. Sandy shares a personal anecdote about receiving numerous emails from a company after purchasing a t-shirt online, highlighting the potential benefits of Web3 identity in preventing such situations.

Incentivizing Data Sharing: Shaping the Future of Digital Identity

Looking to the future, Sandy envisions disruption in marketing practices. Instead of companies buying lists of customer data, they may need to find ways to incentivize individuals to willingly share their data. For instance, companies might offer discounts, VIP perks, or exclusive event invitations to customers who share specific information through their digital identities. This shift toward incentivization encourages a more consensual and mutually beneficial exchange of data between individuals and businesses.

The concept of incentivization is seen as a significant factor in establishing trust and encouraging individuals to share their data within the digital identity framework. Sandy envisions the future of digital identity unfolding in a couple of ways. 

First, she sees a world where individuals will have their own data appliances in their homes. These appliances will store and manage personal data, making it easy for individuals to access and utilize their data, similar to using a remote control or a refrigerator. This would eliminate the need for individuals to hire personal database administrators and allow them to take control of their data in a user-friendly manner.

Secondly, Sandy predicts that essential data will increasingly be stored in digital identities. For example, she mentions the California DMV's experiment of creating car titles as NFTs on the blockchain. This innovation simplifies the process of renewing car titles, enables easy transfer of ownership, and opens up possibilities for other essential data to be stored securely in digital identities.

These developments reflect the growing integration of blockchain technology and digital identity management, offering increased convenience, security, and ownership to individuals. As the digital identity landscape evolves, Unstoppable Domains aims to innovate and contribute to this changing landscape by providing decentralised and user-owned digital identities that empower individuals with control over their personal data.

Revolutionizing Healthcare: Storing Data on NFTs

During a recent event in New York City, Sandy engaged with numerous healthcare startups to discuss the potential of utilizing Non-Fungible tokens (NFTs) to store healthcare data. According to the startups, the real power behind this approach lies in addressing the issue of incomplete medical records leading to misdiagnoses.

In many cases, doctors only have access to limited medical data, such as blood work, blood pressure, and temperature, while crucial information like previous visits to specialists or dental records may be missing. By securely storing comprehensive healthcare data on NFTs, individuals can selectively share relevant information with healthcare providers, maintaining their privacy.

Sandy highlighted a personal experience to emphasize the need for improved data sharing. Having broken her femur in Brazil, it took eight hours to transfer her medical records for emergency surgery. This delay could have been significantly reduced if her records had been readily available on a personal device, making the treatment process more efficient and saving valuable time. The idea of storing healthcare data on NFTs and leveraging blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the industry. It offers improved data integrity, enhanced privacy, and streamlined sharing, which can ultimately lead to better patient care, advanced research, and innovation in healthcare.

Overall, the discussion highlighted the importance of digital identity and blockchain technology in healthcare, addressing issues such as data accessibility, privacy concerns, and the potential for transformative advancements in medical practices.
Additionally, Rachel, as part of her work at Opolis, gained insights into the critical nature of healthcare and the importance of transparency and accessible data. Having completed a Solidity boot camp, she was involved in a project called Smart Health, which aimed to utilize blockchain technology, specifically Solidity, to securely store patient data on the blockchain.

She discovered that the current state of patient data in the healthcare system is highly vulnerable due to the lack of robust security measures in place. Recognizing the need for a comprehensive overhaul, she acknowledges the immense value of digital identity and blockchain technology in revolutionizing the healthcare industry.

Stay Connected: Resources and Final Thoughts

Before we conclude our first episode of season 8, I'd like to highlight several important resources for you, our audience. First and foremost, we encourage you to visit the Unstoppable Domains website. It's an excellent platform that empowers digital identity ownership in Web3.

Sandy's closing thought emphasizes the importance of not underestimating the long-term impact of technologies like blockchain, Web3, the Metaverse, and AI. She encourages everyone to obtain their digital identity and start building their Web3 brand today, as these technologies are expected to significantly influence the future of the internet. Sandy urges the audience to be prepared and not to wait, emphasizing that they are already early adopters by listening to the podcast.

In addition, we want to make sure you have the opportunity to connect with Rachel and Sandy. Feel free to reach out, ask questions, and continue the conversation.

Looking ahead, we are excited to announce our next episode of Crypto Sapiens, where we'll be diving into the fascinating intersection of Web3 and AI. Our special guests will be GM Chad and Kayla, who will share their insights and expertise on this exciting topic.

If you're interested in learning more about joining Opolis, a platform that supports the production of season eight of Crypto Sapiens, we've included a referral link in the description. Take a look and explore the possibilities it offers.

Before we wrap up, we want to emphasize the importance of following and subscribing to Crypto Sapiens on YouTube. We also have a podcast that you won't want to miss. By staying connected with us, you'll be sure to receive the latest updates, valuable content, and thought-provoking discussions.

To stay up to date with everything happening at Crypto Sapiens, make sure to visit our website. It's a great resource for accessing additional information, exploring past episodes, and discovering more about the fascinating world of blockchain and Web3.

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