How has the nature of trust changed in the information age?
These notions of trust and trustworthiness are as old as our species. Many of the specific societal pressures that induce trust are as old as civilisation. Morals and reputational considerations are certainly that old, as are laws. Technical security measures have changed with technology, as well as details around reputational and legal systems, but by and large they’re basically the same.
What has changed in modern society is scale. Today we need to trust more people than ever before, further away ??? whether politically, ethnically or socially ??? than ever before. We need to trust larger corporations, more diverse institutions and more complicated systems. We need to trust via computer networks. This all makes trust, and inducing trust, harder. At the same time, the scaling of technology means that the bad guys can do more damage than ever before. That also makes trust harder. Navigating all of this is one of the most fundamental challenges of our society in this new century.
Given the dangers out there, should we trust anyone? Isn’t “trust no one” the first rule of security?
It might be the first rule of security, but it’s the worst rule of society.