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D2.13: Virtual Persons and Identities

Conclusion  D2.13 Virtual Persons


Virtual Persons : Examples

A virtual person is a virtual entity – an entity which is or has been the product of the mind or imagination – that can have rights, duties, obligations and/or responsibilities associated to it in a certain context. This section illustrates how to describe virtual persons in practice.

The information used to describe a virtual person, i.e., its tautological identity, is typically related to what it is and/or what it has and/or what it does and/or what it knows. A virtual person is also very often described by its attribute(s) and/or role(s) and/or ability(-ies) and/or acquisition(s) and/or preference(s) and/or habit(s), etc. We present some examples of virtual persons with their tautological identities.

  1. “The owner of a given fingerprint” is a virtual person described by one of its attributes. The physical entity (a physical person) behind this virtual person usually does not change over time and is commonly supposed to be unique.

  2. “The richest human being on earth” is also a virtual person described by one of its properties. The physical person represented by this virtual one is not constant over time.

  3. “The tallest living person on earth” is a virtual person described by one of its attributes. The physical person behind this virtual person changes either because the previous corresponding physical person died or because a new physical person grew taller.

  1. The one who knows a certain secret is a virtual person described by its knowledge. The subject behind this virtual person is not necessarily a physical person. Indeed, a computer program or a memory card can “know” a given secret. For example, a smart card knows the private key stored (and possibly even produced) on it.

  1. To be “President of France” is a role. The corresponding virtual person (the President, as a role) is not always linked to the same physical person; it may change after each presidential election.

Each time a physical entity acts, we can decompose the process into the creation of an actor (virtual person), which represents the subject, and the action done by the actor.

  1. “The one who opened the door” is a virtual person described by an action. The subject behind this virtual person could be a physical person, an animal or even the wind!

  2. “The moderator” or anyone using a pseudonym in a group of discussion on the Internet is a virtual person described by its action, i.e., its participation in this group of discussion. The moderator itself is also described by its role.

  1. “The instigator of a crime” is a virtual person described by its role and action in this crime. To find which physical entity/ies (one individual, several people) is/are hidden behind this virtual person falls on the criminal investigators and on the justice.

  2. A writer who uses a pseudonym to publish a book creates a virtual person described by its role and action. The physical entity behind this virtual person (the human being who has written the book) will stay unchanged as long as he/she is alive.

  3. An agent-program on the web can be seen as a virtual person too, acting on behalf of its owner. The corresponding physical entity is an instance of a computer-program. “The owner of this agent-program” is another virtual person described by its role or what it has.


Conclusion  fidis-wp2-del2.13_Virtual_Persons_v1.0.sxw  Pseudonyms
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