Understanding the Mechanics of Trust

In This Podcast
Show Notes
Rachel Botsman
E 37

In This Podcast

  • A deeper understanding of trust
  • Momentum follows pockets of stillness
  • What is the future of trust?
  • Why it’s important to shift our perspective regarding education
  • The future of Facebook
  • In praise of tolerance and local communities

Rachel Botsman talks about who we trust and why, pockets of stillness, companies that will win, how we got lost, living with trust scores, the missing human voice, how you can reframe your business, education factories, the power of communities, and where Facebook is going.

Show Notes

A deeper understanding of trust

In Rachel’s opinion, the future belongs to polymaths who go deep on one chosen subject. In order to really understand big structural changes, to get a macro view on what’s going on, you need to look across different disciplines. When you get the alchemy of science meets economy meets arts, really interesting ideas emerge.

She loves making complex things simple. She studied the arts, and she learned how to reduce things down to their essence. Her strategy is working on something until it reaches that point of simplicity.

One of the main things Rachel hopes people will take from her second book, Who Can You Trust?: How Technology Brought Us Together and Why It Might Drive Us Apart, is that we need to trust someone or something. We often say that we don’t trust banks, governments, media companies, but when we take these institutions out of the fabric of society, what are we left with? We’re left with a trust vacuum. Rachel encourages us to take a moment and really think where we are placing our trust and how conscious we are of our decision.

Momentum follows pockets of stillness

Ideas live and die by momentum. It’s all physics: what has energy attracts power and attention. If you ask Rachel, there are different types of momentum that you need for different types of work. That’s why it’s very important to learn how to generate momentum in a way that doesn’t feel promotional.

It all comes down to pulling out high-quality work in a persistent way. In a funny way, the momentum comes when you find those pockets of stillness to really sit and think and put something out that’s thoughtful, which then gains a lot of traction.

What is the future of trust?

Rachel believes that big future questions will revolve around ethical subjects, not technical ones. When we look at the thread that ties everything together when we question our faith in bankers, Trump or Facebook, what comes up is trying to understand a person’s intentions and integrity.  

“The real winners will be those that show the most integrity and that are the most human.”

Automation and efficiency have their place in today’s society, but people seem to have got lost in these really big systems.

There is this whole debate around Chinese trust scores. If this system will get implemented, it will impact everything from your ability to get loans, whether you can get a job or whether you can go to certain restaurants. We have to realize that it’s very easy to point our fingers at China and think that this would never happen in democratic countries.

Our apathy in terms of the surveillance that companies and governments have on us and how they are using it to predict our future behaviors is pretty impressive. Are we really that far off from China?

Why it’s important to shift our perspective regarding education

When you see programs on technology you realize that there is a human voice that’s missing. A voice with the power to really explore technology’s impact on human values and what it’s doing to our daily lives.

Rachel also emphasizes that businesses need to understand the role they play in people’s lives if they want to be successful long-term. They also need to be aware of how to reframe their business models in order to appeal to the constant changes in society.

She believes education is crucial. If we could change the way we think about education, instead of stripping the curiosity out of our children, spectacular things could become possible.

We need to reimagine the education system because nowadays we can safely say that education is made in factories, or in prisons. Children come in and the doors close, they eat and learn at certain times, the bell rings. If you put people in these kinds of environments, this will produce certain individuals.

“One of the biggest gifts you can give children is to help them discover something that feels uniquely them at a very young age.”

The future of Facebook

If you lose trust and reputation as a company, that’s pretty much it, game over. If we look at what’s happening with Facebook, it’s all about trust. People are fed up with companies giving away their data. They feel that democracy is threatened and they understand the cumulative consequences of that. They are also worried about the concentration of power. What they need from a company are empathy and accountability.

However, she doesn’t think that Facebook will go away anytime soon. What she believes will happen is that the data protection rulings are going to change things. Facebook’s scale will be broken up and it’s going to be a lot harder for them to say that they’re not a media company. They will also have to take a lot more responsibility for the content that’s posted on their platform.

In praise of tolerance and local communities

What does the world need the most right now? For Rachel, the answer is simple: tolerance and patience. We’ve become really intolerant of differences. If we would all be more tolerant towards each other, the world would be a more peaceful and constructive place.

Rachel strongly believes in communities. She realizes how much people feel the need of physical, local communities that can give them the feeling of being part of something that’s bigger than themselves.