The Technium

Non-Assigned Names

I am willing to bet that 200 years from now (2222) more than 66% of people born on the planet will have adult names they chose themselves. Having a name chosen by your parents will be like having a marriage arranged by your parents. It’s not the modern thing to do, and a sign of a very conservative traditional family.

Being assigned a name at birth will still be common place, but this name will primarily be a placeholder until the name choosing ceremony, when you get to choose your legal adult name. Perhaps this happens at 12, or 16. The bureaucratic friction in changing your name which is currently normal will be reduced to make it super easy to do. The name changes will also be tracked on the blockchains, making it both easy to monitor and hard to scam. They system would only work if there was a continuum between names, so changing a name was not a way to hide.

Once changing your name at the threshold of adulthood is easy, changing your name later during adulthood will also be easy. I’d expect people to go through life with multiple name stages. We see the hints of that now with nicknames, and trail names, and playa names, and online handles and pseudonyms. The main difference is that these new names will be legal and easy to track their lineage, since the ledger of names is a public blockchain. The average person might have 3 of 4 hames in their lifetime.

If names were easy to change, and serial, we might see a reduction in duplicate names. In order to accomodate billions of new people with unique names, names would continue to become singular and invented. Most names would be made up. They would take on aspects of a personal brand, or logo. People would devote enormous amounts of time and energy crafting their “personal” names. And why not since what should be more personal than your name? I could also imagine many names no longer being name words, but using non-name words. All nouns and verbs could become names, such as Guitar, Box, Slide, Grass, Swell, Hunker, and so on. But so could intangible terms like “word” itself. Word might become a name. As well as “Might” or “Become”.

Despite all this personalization there will inevitably be fads with names. Bunches of people named Skipr, or XOXO. Still as someone who inherited a very common name, I welcome the age of non-assigned names.


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