Here at Keyo we use palm-vein scanning technology to verify personal identity. But more than what we do, it’s who we are. Everyone in this office is the living, breathing personification of a palm scan.

Or not...

That would be crazy.

So, what does constitute my personal identity, if not personifying palm-vein identification? What makes me me? It’s the fundamental question behind personal identity, and so at the heart of our work.

There are four views behind identity.

1. The Psychological View


I am me because I have a continuous mental experience of being me.

This seems to fit well with most practical concerns. I care that I continue to be the same self, psychologically, for future plans. But then again if I get amnesia, or dementia, do I cease to be the same person? Do I become a different person? If my brain is removed and put in a jar and kept functioning so that I/it retain/s an unbroken memory, am I the same person? And, am I really all of my unbroken mental experience? I remember brushing my teeth this morning after all, and scratching myself, but do those experiences really speak to who I am?

2. The Biological View


I am me because I have the same physical body.

Thanks to popular sci-fi, we’re probably less likely to find this one convincing. Put my brain in a new body and most people would say I’d still be me. Most biometrics (behavioral biometrics are the exception) are linked to physical form, however.

So long story short, if I were put into a new body, Altered Carbon style, I’d have to sign up for a new Keyo account.

3. The Narrative View


I am me because of the story I tell about myself.

This prioritizes the factors of our lives we value, similar in some ways to the psychological view except with more agency. Only the facts and experiences I actively associate with define me. I’m from a small town. I own a cat. Neither factors particularly strongly in the story I tell about myself. Other people from small towns and other cat owners might consider those facts absolutely essential to their personal identities.

But then again, people lie. People have delusions. It seems wrong to leave all of personal identity up to that story. If I think I’m Napoleon, does that make me Napoleon?

4. The Anthropological View


I am me because of some combination of the story I tell about myself and the story others tell about me.

While it doesn’t rely on a single personal narrative, this view opens the door to some additional problems. For example, let’s say my mother loves a certain embarrassing story about my peeing my pants as a toddler. She tells it at dinner parties. Does that have to inform my personal identity? Don’t I get some sort of veto power?

Identity matters in a practical sense for anything involving financial services – opening a bank account, getting a loan, a job, an apartment, credit, a car, or even a bus pass. Identity can determine whether you can vote or when you can’t live, depending on criminal record. And in all of these instances, identity is determined entirely by an extreme version of the Anthropological View, let’s call it the Extreme Anthropological View, that doesn’t take a bit of personal narrative into account.


This sort of identity is made up exclusively of the story others tell about you. It’s not the account told by those who know you, but rather a combination of public record data and credit bureau reports – mundane historical facts I probably don’t care about like old phone numbers, criminal history I may not want to define me, and facts both within and also completely beyond my control which speak to the risk I pose to financial institutions.


Biometrics privilege the Biological View, which isn’t the most compelling viewpoint. But using my body to prove my identity is pretty convenient, and it certainly seems more fundamentally me than my last known address and my credit score.


Yet the question remains, what makes you you?

Yaay! Welcome to our waiting list!

We are excited to have along for the ride.

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