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LiquidityOfTrust is an idea for a possible solution to CommunityMayNotScale.

In a healthy society, trust should be at least as liquid as money. That is to say, trust (and distrust) should pass from mind to mind with at least the same ease as the power embodied in currency is transferred from hand to hand. The reason is can be summarized easily: SoftSecurity is preferable to HardSecurity.

The games in real life are of far more complexity and subtlety than the archetypical prisoner's dilemna, as they involve two complicating factors: rules of ever-increasing complexity, and the presence of secret information. The game of bridge is the most interesting (i.e., complex and subtle) game I know that is labeled as such, but the evidence seems clear that there have been presidents who have treated America's political system as a game to be paid for personal profit; lawyers who treat the legal system as a game to be played for the gain of the class of lawyers; church leaders who treat the moral code as a game to be paid for their personal gratification; and so forth.

When trust is broken, what often happens is that one of the observers of the exchange suspects (with some level of certainty) that trust has been misplaced, but is often unaware of exactly in what way it was broken, and is rarely in possession of enough concrete evidence to lodge a formal complaint. Unable to speak openly, these observers engage in clandestine gossip, eventually leading to the cheater being well-known as such by the inside crowd long before the details of the scam have been discovered. Icesave was one example: the word had gone through the financial community that something was seriously amiss in Iceland, and had been acted upon (in the form of betting against Iceland's currency), a couple of years before the debacle was publicly exposed. For these reasons, I think it's essential that the atomic unit in the formal LiquidityOfTrust system be the "hunch".

There are many kinds of trust: trust that you will be kind to me; trust that you won't molest my child; trust that you will be an honest custodian of my money; trust that you will be intellectually honest; the list is endless. A common mistake is to confuse different kinds of trust. Con men know how to play on this confusion -- they depend on the "fuzziness" of trust, on the assumption that "people who act personable and friendly" are "trustworthy with money". The street con is only the most obvious form of this fraudulent activity -- fraudulent bankers, for instance, can profit from the assumption that institutions which project the appearance of wealth (and which have figured out how to avoid regulatory scrutiny) can be trusted with your money. To avoid abuses of the "fuzziness" of trust, I think it's essential that we treat trust as a multi-dimensional space, and that anyone be able to invent a new dimension.

For LiquidityOfTrust to work, there are a number of obstacles which must be overcome, mostly psychological and social. Two common patterns stand out:

From a technical standpoint, the basic idea is to create an accounting system up to the task of recording and communicating the information needed for people to make effective decisions about whom they can trust, and in what ways they can trust them.

Some related ideas are described on WebOfTrust, TrustMetric, WebOfTrustModeration, FunctionalAccessTrustMetric, and there's also an early external [exposition].

Helmut, I share with Nathaniel the intuition, that trust can really be characterized as a kind of fluid energy [GoogleSideWiki:MayBeThatTrustFlowsIntoSomeInvisiblePrivatePlace] that cannot be destructed, but only flows to other places, perhaps regressing into the private sphere. -- FridemarPache


HelmutLeitner -- Thu Sep 17 13:55:26 2009

I think there are some analytical problems with this page. Maybe they could be removed to make the ideas effective.

The basic context seems to be CommunityMayNotScale, but this context ist put in the end and not upfront. And this context is put as an assumption "I think that ... ", is hypothetical, while most of the page is dogmatic: "trust should be liquid", "loyalty is trust", "patriotism is loyalty", "loyalty means to agree to sins" (whatever this has to do with it).

On the other hand, the op notes, that there are different kinds of trust. (ok, what kinds? )(ok, maybe then there are different grades of liquidity?) (ok, then there is maybe "solid" trust?) (or is this more about "static" and "dynamic"?)

Maybe there are different carriers of trust: TrustInPersons? (I know him), TrustInRoles? (he is a professor for physics, and I trust him about his science, and to be a responsible member of society, maybe he can not fully be trusted to be not a pedophil), TrustInSymbols? (I trust somebody in a BOSS suit not to rob me in the street, I trust a man in uniform to organize during a catastrophe, I trust the white men in the hopitals). ...

Also the paradigm of "liquid" seems doubtful to me, because a "liquid" is a kind of mass that can flow but remains constant. Trust is more something that can increase or decrease as a whole, like share prizes at the stock markets. E. g. the trust between banks completely broke down during the financial crisis. The trust didn't flow to another place, it was gone.

I think that trust has little to do with loyalty and loyalty has nothing to do with patriotism. I think trust has to do with reliability and predictability. It has a lot to do with the "sensus communis" of Kant, the ability to reproduce the thinking and feeling of others minds, to really understand other people, to understand why they do what they do.

Loyalty is something like a deal of mutual exchange: the senior supports the junior, the junior obeys and protects the senior. It is a partnership for time, that lies to be timeless.

Patriotism is the official testimony of being loyal to ones country. This seems more like a confession targeting status in the public, it seems usually not connected to an exchange of advantages, it may be anything from genuine gratefulness to pure opportunism. So the suggested identity trust=loyalty=patriotism is not only doubtful, but it also yields nothing.

The basic question is to get CommunitiesThatScale. To get that, the community must probably provide opportunities, status, reputation, living space, money or similar advantages. Only then people will come in numbers. If they are attracted in numbers you can establish a hierarchical system that is connected to a suggested reliable behaviour, that is connected to certain values. Usually hierarchical systems are repulsive, so you need a strong attraction to have it accepted. Call the measurement unit for that system "trust", if you have a need to.

my $0.02

NathanielThurston -- Thu Sep 17 16:08:10 2009

Helmut, thanks for your critique, and I hope that the revised version of the page is more effective.

It's curious that this idea is a kind of "wishful thinking". I am arguing down from the top, starting from the question, "what would be necessary to...?", and striving toward the goal of being grounded in facts and realistic possibilities. I've given the idea far more thought about what is required than is evident here; perhaps you and others could name your objections in order that I could address the most important ones first.

NathanielThurston -- Mon Sep 21 08:22:28 2009

Nobody likes people who "play games", for good reason. I have been momentarily tempted to attempt to treat the world's social, political, and economic systems as a game to be played for the benefit of the planet, and firmly decided against it. I'm glad I did, for two reasons: the first and most obvious is that I was deluded about my chances of winning such a game, but that wasn't (and couldn't have been) obvious at the time. What returned me to sanity was the simple observation that success wouldn't have been enjoyable, for in so doing I would have become a GodKing and would therefore have no real friends. This is related to our observations about DefendAgainstPassion - collaboration is impossible when one of the parties is more passionate than the other, and a GodKing must of necessity retain a monopoly on passion.

On the other hand, games are invaluable, for in my opinion it is through playing games that students learn from teachers, and I think it's clear that students need to "play to win" when learning from their teachers. As for me: I see myself as aspiring to mastery at the art of game-playing, and the biggest lesson that I know I need to learn more deeply is that of humility. Also: playing to win is for children and students; adults and masters play to lose. The exceptions would seem to be for when peers play each other for the love of the game; and when necessary to fulfill the the duty to defend each other.

NathanielThurston -- Mon Apr 12 16:38:01 2010

I have recently discovered a way out of my paradox. By insisting on remaining equal with all of the other players in the game, it is possible for an enlightened individual to avoid the GodKing trap, even as he or she plays the "game of life and love" to win. We can all have different roles, and can (and should) trade roles from time to time, in that way preserving balance while offering all the opportunity to grow.

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