Around the world, trust in our institutions is collapsing. More than a trend, this is a profound shift changing politics, business and social norms. New studies by Edelman and PWC point to the same dissolution – trust in media, government, charities and businesses has never been so low. Trust once reserved for respected institutions and brands, we now bestow upon complete strangers through digital platforms such as Airbnb and Uber. The shift isn’t just about the failure of institutions; technology is rewriting the rules of trust. Through blockchain technologies, for example, people can directly and transparently transfer assets without trusted third parties. Our traditional trusted custodians – bankers, auditors, regulators and lawyers – will need to work a lot harder to prove their value in this new era.
Rachel Botsman, a lecturer at Oxford University, author, and global authority on a new era of trust, can help us navigate these changes. An expert on how technology is altering the social fabric and changing human behaviors, she articulates both the opportunities and dangers of the evolving state of trust in the world. Her recent TED talk and her forthcoming book “Who Can You Trust?” (Penguin, 2017) explores why this shift is happening and what it means for us. In her words, “Technology is creating new mechanisms that are enabling us to trust unknown people, companies and ideas. And at the same time, trust in institutions, banks, governments, and even churches is collapsing.” So what’s happening here? Watch the video for a detailed explanation of her definition of trust, the “trust stack” concept and explanation of how it enables innovation and progress.