Magic will never be the same after Disney. Friend has been transformed by Facebook.

Some company names like FedEx, Band-Aid, Google, and Xerox became new words.

It doesn’t happen every day. It doesn’t happen overnight, but when something changes the way we think and talk in our daily lives, in some ways it changes our daily lives.  None of these are controversial.  They happened.

We never used to send things overnight, so when we started doing it with regularity – the company that brought us overnight shipping became so intertwined with it, that the word FedEx was what people used to describe it, even if they were using another service like UPS. Facebook redefining “friend” was gradual – but that happened for most.

Privacy is one word that has been changed, but no one really gets (or takes) credit for that, and there isn’t a company name or new word that accounts for it. It was a pretty one-size-fits-all word and now it’s not.

Usually – a change like this happens gradually and one day we just start talking about Googling something, knowing that people will know what we mean even if they have never heard the expression.

I can’t think of a single example where we were able to see this sort of word transformation coming. Someone probably did – but I was never in a discussion where someone said “Facebook is going to change the way our entire culture defines and uses the word friend.”  But  there is a candidate for that right now.  And the reason it’s a candidate is because, like privacy, it has already changed.

The word is trust.

Trust is a word that meant something very specific to all of us before the internet. There were unwritten rules about who you would, and would not, trust.  You would meet them, make eye contact, shake their hand.  In many ways trust changed with the internet.  As we became more comfortable with usernames and passwords, the fact that someone could authenticate was a “good enough” measure that someone was trustworthy.  Looking back, it’s a little hard to believe, almost like the story of the frog that’s put into a pot of cold water on a stove and the heat is turned on very low so the water heats up so gradually the frog doesn’t notice that it is starting to get dangerously hot.

Right now we are the frogs and the water has gotten dangerously hot. With identity theft running rampant, our IDs and passwords are clearly not safe or protected – we urgently need to get back to a point where we are certain that the person we are dealing with is who they say they are.  We need to get back to the old model of trust.  Banks and healthcare organizations have laws that say they need it – but it just makes sense.

How do we get there? iRespond (https://www.irespond.org) is a groundbreaking non-profit company that may play a role in this trust.  They are able to scan the iris of a person at birth and the iris is one biometric we have that does not change as we age.  They are already saving lives by documenting the existence of people that had previously only existed in the shadows – which makes them vulnerable to slavery and trafficking and other nefarious crimes.

The other big step comes from AuthenticID. AuthenticID takes a biometric as simple as a selfie photo, and matches it with a photo ID like a driver’s license or passport.  With literally dozens of algorithms checking for things like liveness, presence, photo tampering, and others, they can score how much you should trust that the person is who they say they are.  Banks have KYC (Know Your Customer) rules which are different from the health care HIPAA rules, so different groups will have a different measure of trust, and over time individuals accumulate a “trust score” that follows them like a credit score.

So, will iRespond or AuthenticID become synonymous with trust as we turn off the stove on the frog and restore trust? iRespond is taking identity and trust where it has never even existed, so they are already on the path to becoming a word for the people they help.  AuthenticID is already on a similar path for people who have a government issued IDs who are ready to get rid of logins and passwords and all of the wasted time every time they enroll in a new service.

Trust is coming back to the developed world via AuthenticID and iRespond is introducing trust and identity to the underdeveloped world.

This is transformational.

It’s overdue.

But it’s very welcome.

Trust.

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