Future of Sharing: Trusting Strangers, Not Institutions—Navigating the Complicated Landscape of Platforms

Rachel Botsman, world-renowned trust expert and University of Oxford lecturer, has a new book, Who Can You Trust? How Technology Brought Us Together – and Why It Could Drive Us Apart, explores questions of transparency, scale, and ownership that are at the heart of the sharing economy. Botsman says she “became obsessed with understanding how strangers could trust one another through technology,” from apps and platforms like Uber and Airbnb to the dark web. Seemingly paradoxically, technology is facilitating trust between strangers at the same time as trust in institutions is eroding globally. Botsman argues that the narrative that trust is imploding is problematic—this tends to worsen the problem, Botsman says, and we’re naturally a pretty trusting species. One upside to the reinvigorated conversation about trust is that we now see trust as an asset that needs to be protected, not a given.