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The Obsolescence of Trust

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses how technologies are replacing trust in modern society, using examples like Uber and the Chinese social credit system. It explores the implications of this shift, arguing that while transparency provided by technology can reduce the need for trust, it can also restrict individual freedom. The article suggests that technology should not replace trust, but rather be used to strengthen and enlighten it.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] The Replacement of Trust by Technology

1. What are the key points made about how technologies are replacing trust?

  • Technologies like Uber and Airbnb provide efficiency and transparency, but do not require trust in the same way traditional services did (e.g., taxi licenses as a form of institutionalized trust).
  • Transparency, which provides information to users, is the opposite of trust, which involves belief and faith in the unknown.
  • Many urban technologies and applications operate on this model of providing information to reduce the need for trust.
  • The Chinese social credit system aims to calculate a "Citizen Score" to assess the reliability of each citizen, replacing trust with data-driven evaluation.

2. What are the potential benefits and drawbacks of replacing trust with transparency and information? Benefits:

  • Reduces the risks and discrimination associated with trust
  • Aligns with a progressive vision of replacing belief with knowledge


  • Trust is an important "synthetic force" in society that enables cooperation
  • Trust attests to the freedom of others and their ability to surprise or disappoint us
  • Restricting freedom through control mechanisms like rating systems and surveillance does not truly replace trust with knowledge

[02] The Role of Technology in Strengthening Trust

1. How can information technologies be used to strengthen and enlighten trust, rather than replace it?

  • Technologies can be used to create more proximity and communication between citizens and local actors, enhancing trust.
  • For example, ride-sharing apps could prioritize connections between repeat users to build interpersonal trust, rather than insisting on each trip being with a different driver.
  • Trust and information can coexist, with "trust to" (probabilistic calculation) and "trust in" (unconditional belief) serving different purposes.
  • Technology should not replace the precious gift of unconditional trust that opens up new futures.
Shared by Daniel Chen ยท
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