Does Trust Have a Future?

Much of human progress has been driven by the evolution of trust. Will that continue? How will technology change trust, society and collective action?

In my two #scifi novels Utopia Five and the newly published Conundra I look at the potential effects of vastly enhanced, publicly-available surveillance on society and trust. Would it be dystopian or utopian?

Trust 1.0

Eventually, the rest of the developed world wised up to the benefits of more trust. The legal and banking systems took on responsibility for behavioural enforcement and suddenly everyone could sign contracts or exchange loans with a lot less risk. Trust 3.0 thus became about the power of the state to enforce “trustworthy” behaviour.

In the developing world, institutional trust systems (e.g. banks) and enforcement (e.g. courts) are seen as fundamental to a successful economy and the escape from poverty. Read the excellent “Poor Economics” for a well-argued book on that subject.

So, trust has evolved beyond interpersonal judgments based on close familiarity to trusted authorities and enforcement based on state-defined legal rules.

Which way will it go next?

Overrated?

Don’t Lie to me!

The Eyes Have it

Dystopian or what? Why do Chinese citizens put up with it? As usual, the reality is not quite as black and white as it sounds. In many cases, the observation is popular. Many folk find it useful to know who they can trust — particularly in China’s new cities where strangers are required to cooperate every day or where people with no credit history or local contacts need loans or help.

On the downside, the fear of that level of state intrusion is one of the causes behind the current unrest in Hong Kong. There, the populace often have different priorities to mainlanders.

Slave to the Algorithm

Trust in the Future

My personal conclusion is that trust might be the most powerful tool humanity has. Is it worth evolving and expanding it any cost? It could be.

About the Author

Panopticon Series

“Utopia 5 asks the big questions about privacy, surveillance and free will in a networked society. All wrapped up in a page-turning thriller” — Buy it on Amazon

Hero image with thanks to NASA.

SciFi author interested in tech, engineering, science, art, SF, economics, psychology, startups. Chaotic evil.

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