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Who Can You Trust – Rachel Botsman

Who Can You Trust – How Technology Brought Us Together and Why It Might Drive Us Apart.

In this revolutionary book, world-renowned trust expert Rachel Botsman reveals that we are at the tipping point of one of the biggest social transformations in human history–with fundamental consequences for everyone. A new world order is emerging: we might have lost faith in institutions and leaders, but millions of people rent their homes to total strangers, exchange digital currencies, or find themselves trusting a bot. This is the age of “distributed trust,” a paradigm shift driven by innovative technologies that are rewriting the rules of an all-too-human relationship.

If we are to benefit from this radical shift, we must understand the mechanics of how trust is built, managed, lost, and repaired in the digital age. In the first book to explain this new world, Botsman provides a detailed map of this uncharted landscape–and explores what’s next for humanity.

Editorial Reviews

How technology is changing our attitudes toward trust.

At a time when trust in institutions—Congress, the church, the media, etc.—is in great jeopardy, another form of trust is quickly becoming the glue that keeps society together. It is called distributed trust, and it involves “people trusting other people through technology,” writes business consultant Botsman (co-author: What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, 2010). Later in the book, she continues, “the rise of multi-billion-dollar companies such as Airbnb and Uber, whose success depends on trust between strangers, is a clear illustration of how trust can now travel through networks and marketplaces.” In an absorbing, story-filled narrative that will leave readers with a new understanding of the phenomenon that drives life in our digital age, the author makes clear that distributed trust—a “confident relationship with the unknown”—now powers such disparate enterprises as Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites; social media platforms; peer-to-peer lending; online education courses; and Wikipedia and other information-sharing sites. In the case of self-driving cars, we now trust “our very lives to the unseen hand of technology.” Examining trust and its various types (local, institutional, distributed), Botsman explains that we have been making “trust leaps” of one kind or another for centuries; a current example is entering credit card details into an internet site for the first time. She details the mechanisms that encourage the popularity of these transactions and the stories behind the success of such companies as Jack Ma’s Alibaba, where 80 percent of all goods are bought and sold online in China, whose people demand proof of trustworthiness. Other sections cover trust and money, the risk of overtrusting robots, and the importance of reputation on the darknet. As the author notes, trust is “society’s most precious and fragile asset,” and we should all take a “trust pause” before deciding who to put faith in.

A sharp, thoughtful, sometimes-surprising account of how we build trust with strangers now.

About the Author

Rachel Botsman teaches how technology is transforming human relationships and what it means for life, work and how we do business.

In her first highly acclaimed book, What’s Mine is Yours (HarperCollins, 2010), she defined the theory of collaborative consumption. The book was a finalist for the 800-CEO-Read Business Book Awards in 2010,
and the concept was named by TIME as one of the “Ten Ideas That Will Change the World.”

She teaches the world’s first MBA course on the collaborative economy, which she designed, at Oxford University’s Saïd School of Business.

Her forthcoming book, Who Can You Trust? (Penguin, October 2017) explains why trust is collapsing in all kinds of institutions and yet at the same time, the rise of new technologies is enabling “distributed trust” across networks of people, organisations and intelligent machines.

She is a regular writer and commentator in leading international publications including Harvard Business Review, Economist, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company and more. Rachel is a contributing editor to Wired magazine. She has appeared on many high-profile news programs, including the BBC, CNN and NPR.

Rachel was recognised as one of the “Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company, a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum and is part of Thinkers50 2016 Radar list of up-and-coming management thinkers.

An engaging storyteller and visionary thinker, Rachel lectures widely on technological and social issues. Her TED talks have been viewed more than three million times. Rachel is @rachelbotsman on Twitter.

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