Jon Michael Galindo

~ writing, programming, art ~

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17 September 2015


How far can anti-counterfeiting measures go?

In an ideal world, technology would render identity theft impossible without impacting any person's desire for anonymity and privacy. I considered the problem carefully, and eventually fell in love with one quirky solution.

Presumably, sentience is impossible to counterfeit; that is to say, a mind is impossible to replicate perfectly. Imagine a creature whose sole purpose is to identify a person. This creature holds that purpose more precious than its own life.

This is the idea behind PIGs: small, fuzzy Personal Identity Gnomes which travel with a person everywhere he or she goes and serve as identification. This gnome is vital to monetary transactions, border-crossings, and law-enforcement.

To identify a person, a gnome's genetic code and training are verified, after which it simply speaks to identify the person by name or some number. The gnomes are issued and verified by a central agency, which produces them through cloning. This agency records a person's DNA at birth, (memorized by several immense, single-purpose sentiences, rather than stored in hard-copy or a database), and trains a gnome to identify that person. The imprinted gnome is loyal to death, and will never misidentify said person or identify anyone else. Should a gnome need replacing, said person's DNA serves as an identifier for the agency to re-issue a new gnome.

(If DNA were simply measured at every transaction, whatever database it might be compared against would be in constant danger of compromise.)

There are many more issues involved, particularly in securing the verification process of gnomes, but suffice it to say that counterfeiting a gnome demands extensive means and sufficient power to corrupt a high-level employee of the central issuing agency. The security lies in the fact that all gnomes share a single genome and can only be produced through cloning. Local verification of DNA and training can be performed without a network connection.

In this short story, a would-be identity thief encounters the latest model of gnome, whose training includes deception. ;-)

© Jon Michael Galindo 2015