Categorized | Technology

How Has Technology Changed The Way We Trust?

Posted on 15 February 2017 by admin

Rachel Botsman has spent over a decade thinking about the “sharing economy.” As an an author and a visiting academic at the University of Oxford, Saïd Business School, who researches how technology is transforming trust, she’s an authority on the subject. She’s also one of Fast Company‘s Most Creative People. She is currently writing a book, due out next fall, about the new decentralized economies and how that has changed trust.

I recently chatted with her about what this means for the future of leadership. What follows is a transcript of our conversation. It has been edited for space and clarity.

Can you talk a bit about your current project and its background?

In 2009, I wrote What’s Mine Is Yours about the so-called sharing economy. And there were really two aspects that always interested me about it. One was how you can take these idle assets and unlock their value through technology, and then the second was trust. This notion that technology could breed familiarity and enable strangers to trust one another was fascinating, and the start of something much bigger.

I started to research things like the blockchain and our relationship to artificial intelligence, and all these other technologies that transformed how we trust people, ideas, things, companies. I felt that there was a paradigm shift happening.

At the same time, it’s hard to ignore the headlines that trust is really imploding. So whether it’s banks, the media, government, churches . . . this institutional trust that is really important to society is disintegrating at an alarming rate. And so how do we trust people enough to get in a car with a total stranger and yet we don’t trust a banking executive? So that’s essentially what the book unpacks.

And what I’ve discovered through writing the book is that these systems aren’t better—they still bump against human error and greed and market forces. It is very hard to have a decentralized system because you always end up with a center or a monopoly of power. What I find really frightening is this denial—and this is a leadership question—first of all [to accept] that trust is changing. And then the lack of organizations completely rethinking how you build trust, what you do with trust when it’s destroyed, whether the basic principles are really changing.

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