Trust in our technology industry is seemingly collapsing in front of our eyes. From cloud breaches to data hacking, the promise of security, flexibility, and availability have destroyed our confidence in privacy. As technology infiltrates more areas of our everyday life, we begin to question: do we actually trust our technology?
As our dependence on technology grows, vulnerabilities and lack of accountability has seen all-time lows in societal trust in tech, says an Elderman Trust Barometer survey.
The survey was conducted in 27 countries, on 31,000 people and showed trust in tech — including companies specializing in AI, VR, 5G and the internet of things — fell all around the world last year.
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The drop in trust comes as technology programmes become complex and problems with these ungoverned systems arise:
- Stolen credentials
- Poor protection of sensitive data
- Supply-chain attacks
- Digital fraud and fake credentials
- Vulnerable software
In a LinkedIn discussion, one user weighs in to say, “trust is earned, not given.. Yet we gave it away for the sake of innovation.”
Surveyor Edelman said “the main reason for the trust fall is the increasingly ‘complicated’ relationship between the public and technology — including the spread of misinformation, rising privacy alarm and bias in artificial intelligence.
Although the tech industry remains ahead of other sectors of the business world, there is still a significant decline from prior years.
An evolving digital landscape has made it harder and harder to know just whom to trust. Is the person or company you’re dealing with real or just an online facade? Is the video you’re looking at genuine or a deepfake? Where exactly does your data go when you share it? There’s no way to fact check everything, in turn, creating social anxiety and distrust.
Embracing Trust Anchors
Trust can be personal—trusting someone you know. But since most people in society are strangers, it’s trust in tech is often mediated by a third party; the government, a company with a trusted brand, or a collaborative representative body.
Today’s trust anchors can’t just be governments. For trust and governance to function in the digital age, a wide range of people and groups need to participate in the process.
Governments need to become more flexible and agile to create space for this new kind of governance. The private sector, too, will have to adjust by taking on new kinds of responsibilities.
Society needs ‘trust anchors’ to avoid halting innovation, but feel confident to embrace it by understanding how data is collected, obtained and used. This can only be achieved through businesses and innovators becoming accountable and transparent.
Edelman urges businesses to embrace a mandate to lead:
- “Shared prosperity” through new jobs and skills.
- Codifying trust through “fairness” and “explainability.”
- Increased diversity, equity and inclusion.
As Paula Goldman, Chief Ethical and Humane Use Officer for Slaesforce stated, “for technology to be effective, it must be built responsibly – and no matter how good a tool is, people won’t use it unless it has their trust.”
Our relationship with tech and our inability to trust the systems we use everyday will only continue to increase without third-party intervention and business transparency.