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Who Can You Trust?

How Technology Brought Us Together – and Why It Could Drive Us Apart

By Rachel Botsman
13-minute read
Audio available
Who Can You Trust?: How Technology Brought Us Together – and Why It Could Drive Us Apart by Rachel Botsman

Who Can You Trust (2017) analyzes the past, present and future of trust. Rachel Botsman addresses the most pressing questions of our networked age, asking why it is that we now trust complete strangers with the most intimate aspects of our lives. She also explores how new technologies like blockchains will continue to revolutionize our relationship with others.

  • Anyone fascinated by the big ideas that make the world tick
  • People interested in the cutting edge of technological change
  • Futurologists burning to know what our societies will look like in ten years

Rachel Botsman is a writer and speaker whose work has been published in Wired, the New York Times and Harvard Business Review as well as many other publications. Her TED talks have been viewed more than four million times and are available in 29 languages. Botsman is also the author of What’s Mine Is Yours.

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Who Can You Trust?

How Technology Brought Us Together – and Why It Could Drive Us Apart

By Rachel Botsman
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
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Who Can You Trust?: How Technology Brought Us Together – and Why It Could Drive Us Apart by Rachel Botsman
Synopsis

Who Can You Trust (2017) analyzes the past, present and future of trust. Rachel Botsman addresses the most pressing questions of our networked age, asking why it is that we now trust complete strangers with the most intimate aspects of our lives. She also explores how new technologies like blockchains will continue to revolutionize our relationship with others.

Key idea 1 of 8

Trust opens the door to the world.

What is trust? It’s an everyday word we all know and use, but it’s a surprisingly tricky concept to pin down. We each have slightly different interpretations. Look closely enough, though, and you’ll find that virtually every definition shares a common theme.

Trust opens the door to the world and expands our horizons.

Take an average day. Without trust, it would be difficult to leave your home, let alone buy something from a stranger online. And imagine getting on a plane if you didn’t trust its ability to stay aloft. From using a credit card on eBay to flying somewhere for a holiday, our complex, interconnected world depends on trust at every turn.

But trust is a two-way street. That’s why we’re most likely to trust others when we know that they have more to lose than to gain by betraying our trust.

A good example of this is the trust system developed by Maghribi traders in the eleventh century and still used in the business world today.

The traders faced a conundrum. They wanted to ship their goods to the profitable but distant markets of Sicily. That meant they had to use intermediaries. How could they make sure they weren’t being fleeced?

The Maghribi entrepreneurs hit on a simple but effective solution. If their partners in Sicily showed themselves to be dishonest, they would be excluded from the traders’ business networks and lose out on future opportunities. By developing a system that cut both ways, the traders established a foundation of trust that allowed them to carry out their business and avoid being cheated.

What the traders had invented was a rating system. It was a revolutionary innovation that is used to this day in the business world.

And its modern version, as we’ll see in the following blinks, is becoming ever more important.

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