We’ve stopped trusting institutions and started trusting strangers / Reflection

Rachel Botsman mentions in a 2016 TED conference titled ‘We’ve stopped trusting institutions and started trusting strangers’ that “technology is creating new mechanisms that are enabling us to trust unknown people, companies and ideas. And yet at the same time, trust in institutions — banks, governments and even churches — is collapsing”.

Botsman makes reference to platforms like Airbnb, Tinder and car sharing services that are widely in use today. This phenomenon is made possible because of accountability. Each platform requires you to create an account that displays how highly you are rated on how reliable your services are, creating a sense of accountability. For ages, we’ve trusted large corporations and organisations. These people create the rules, and when they mess up, we just have to suck it up because they were the governing body. 

Entering the digital, we realise that institutional trust is not meant for this age and dealt with each other with the help of technology instead. This new form of trust that is being invented will advance person-to-person relationships through distributed networks and collaborative marketplaces and changes the dynamic of how ideas are created and shared. For example, Amazon’s Flex that was launched in Seattle in 2015 was a crowdsourced delivery service that employed the ordinary man (no uniforms, logos or branded vehicles) to deliver packages and the fact that there was trust in this transaction is a huge step.

Image result for Amazon Flex

This trust shift adds another layer to what we have to worry about, like device hacking and abuse of the system. What the future holds for this new shift in dynamics is no doubt uncertain and frightening even. But instead of focusing on the disruption of this trust shift, Botsman encourages us to learn and embrace the opportunities to redesign systems. This can be said for collaborative art and narratives, that are more transparent, inclusive and accountable. 

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