Trust, Security, and Society

Human societies run on trust. Every day, we all trust millions of people, organizations, and systems—and we do it so easily that we barely notice. But in any system of trust, there is an alternative, parasitic, strategy that involves abusing that trust. Ensuring defectors don’t destroy the very cooperative systems they’re abusing is an age-old problem. So society has developed a variety of pressures to induce cooperation: moral systems, reputational systems, institutional systems, and security systems. Understanding how these different societal pressures work—and fail—is essential to understanding the problems we face in today’s increasingly technological and interconnected world.

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.