Posted by Dedra Chamberlin on Apr 12, 2024 4:50:20 PM

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InCommon Futures and Multilateral Federation


This year’s Internet2 Community Exchange was one of the best I’ve attended. The balmy 70 degree temperatures and lovely venue right along the River Walk were a great welcome! 


The conference opened with a fantastic Keynote by Dr. Kate Darling, Research Scientist at the MIT Media Lab, on the topic of robots and AI. Her research on human empathy and robots was so interesting; I wanted to take the robot dinosaur home!

I particularly welcomed her closing remarks about robots and AI “taking over” human jobs. “It’s not ‘Robots are taking jobs’” she said, “It’s corporate decision-makers making decisions that prioritize corporate profit over employee well-being”. Hear, hear!

She noted that people who express concerns about robots and their potential negative impact on humans are decried as “Luddites”, intending to mean “anti-technology”. But she pointed out that the Luddites in 19th century industrial revolution England were not anti-technology at all. They were anti application of technology for short-term profit incentives.

She acknowledged that there are plenty of risks around AI and robotic technology when it comes to human’s day-to-day life and long term survival. She cautioned that “we can’t shame robots into good behavior.” Instead, she made clear that what we need are better consumer protection laws.

She ended her talk with the powerful assertion that “Robots do not determine the future, we do”.

InCommon Futures and Multilateral Federation

During the conference, many of us were eagerly digesting the just announced InCommon Futures Report. Marc Wallman and Kevin Morooney shared comments on the actual report, and many CIOs were overheard talking animatedly about the future of InCommon and Internet2 Identity and Access Management efforts. 

Marc Wallman is current chair of InCommon Steering, and as CIO at North Dakota State University, he has a keen understanding of the importance of Identity and Access management as part of a university’s digital fabric. At last year’s TechEx, Marc had the quote of the event, which I have heard repeated by many others since: “Identity and Access Management brings coherence to everything else we do”. At the Community Exchange InCommon Futures session, Marc provided an analogy to make the same point: “Identity and Access Management is the sinew that holds everything together.”

Some other notable quotes gleaned from IAM sessions:

Kevin Morooney talking about the scope of impact of our community efforts: “To fail to interoperate globally is to fail in our mission.”

Lois Brooks highlighted the dual, and sometimes competing roles, of IAM in streamlining access as well as securing systems: “If we don’t accept some risk on the security side, we will introduce some risk on the business side.”


IAM-HER (Identity and Access Management - Higher Education and Research) is a volunteer-led community group for women and allies in the IAM field in the Research and Education (R&E) sector. Many IAM-HER colleagues were on stage and actively engaged in events at Community Exchange this year!

Heidi Thompson, Enterprise Identity and Messaging Administrator, and Kate Wilcox, Director of Data Insights from Grinnell College gave a great talk called From Authentication to Analytics. They described how IAM and data analytics can provide much more value to campus when working together and not in isolated silos.

Nicole Roy moderated a panel called Whither Wallets? to review the progress on wallet-based identifiers in the Research and Education sector. There is so much opportunity to apply the trust frameworks already established in R&E to this new approach to user verification.

Dedra Chamberlin joined Corey Lee, CTO for Education at Microsoft, and Steve Krogull, CIO at the University of Arkansas for a presentation on Microsoft and Multilateral Federation. It was great to hear perspectives from Microsoft and a campus that has registered their Entra ID Identity Provider with InCommon by leveraging the Cirrus Identity Bridge.

Ann West was seen throughout the conference, networking with everyone, sharing key insights at the podium, roaming with the mic to get insights from the community, and celebrating InCommon’s 20th birthday with delicious cupcakes!

Karen Kato chatted with many Cirrus Identity colleagues and customers at our InCommon Catalyst table, and then joined the circle of IAM elders for some brainstorming with Corey Lee. The only thing left on the table were crumbs from the delicious Taste of Chicago event, and the roadmap for future success? It’s S-cubed: Schemas, Standards, and Strategy.

It was so great to reconnect with so many folks in person, and I was especially relieved not to succumb to what seemed like many different bugs that took out lots of folks.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again soon, whether virtually at Internet2 BaseCAMP, or in person at EDUCAUSE, or Internet2 TechEx.

Thanks for a lovely time Internet2 and Chicago! Until next time.