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Why We Cannot Blindly Trust The New Economy of Trust

When do we become afraid to make mistakes? When forgiveness dies.

Take a moment to watch this video:

Part of me says “I’ve seen the future and the future is trust.”

But then, a little warning light goes off in my brain. Like that distant flickering of a train lamp thundering my way. And, to be fair, Rachel adds this disclaimer in this TED video. But I want to just say:

The trust economy is also a roadmap for defining a new class of disenfranchised consumers and the gray (or black) market that will support them.

Fast forward 5/10/50/100 years into the future. Put yourself in the shoes of those the system blows out…because…for one reason or the other….their reputations gets detonated.

Gattica takes this concept to an extreme… how big will the collaborative networking systems, those same systems that funnel $$ our way based on our social scores, become? Maybe the question is better asked, how vital will those systems become?

Today I know of a number of systems that are absolutely the financial lifeblood to those that use them. The TED video mentions AirBNB. Another of these online systems is Elance.  There are literally hundreds of these systems fueling cottage industries all over the world. The earned reputations of the buyers and sellers within these networks adds a layer of trustworthiness to these collaborative environments that makes them work. You score ok, and you get the job. You don’t score, nuts!

What happens if your reputation gets hijacked? Or if you have a bad day? Or a bad week? Or you accidentally go off your meds? Or you’re targeted by a group because they don’t like you? What happens when the system is turned against you? What happens when we begin to fear making mistakes?

It’s very easy to see this leading us blindly off a cliff.

People can opt out of this sort of economy. Sure. But isn’t that where the money will be? Will my resume be replaced by my Klout score? It’s already happening!

How much pressure will there be on individuals to engineer their “social” scores? How can the system be duped? What happens if you have a bad day, get black balled and essentially cut off from your source of income if it’s derived from one of these collaborative systems?

When everything is working fine, these concepts seem logical and good. But you cannot leave it at that. You have to consider concepts such as the “trust” economy through the lens of “what happens when the system breaks down?” What happens when the algorithm funneling your trust score gets hosed?

That’s where the ugly lives.

Life has never had an UNDO key. But now, systems like these have the potential for eliminating a RECOVERY drive too.

Algorithms don’t currently have the capacity for forgiveness.

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes” Oscar Wilde

“To err is human. To forgive, divine.” Alexander Pope

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