We don't demand a background check on the plumber who shows up to fix the leaky sink. We don't do a chemical analysis on food we eat. In the absence of personal relationships, we have no choice but to substitute confidence for trust, compliance for trustworthiness. This progression has enabled society to scale to unprecedented complexity, but has also permitted massive global failures.
At the same time, too much cooperation is bad. Without some level of rule-breaking, innovation and social progress become impossible. Society stagnates.
Bruce Schneier, world-renowned for his level-headed thinking on security and technology, tackles this complex subject head-on. Society can't function without trust, and yet must function even when people are untrustworthy.
Liars and Outliers reaches across academic disciplines to develop an understanding of trust, cooperation, and social stability. From the subtle social cues we use to recognize trustworthy people to the laws that punish the non-compliant, from the neuro systems that reward our honesty to the bank vaults that keep out the dishonest, keeping people cooperative is a delicate balance of rewards and punishments. It's a series of evolutionary tricks, social pressure, legal mechanisms, and physical barriers.
Trust and cooperation are the first problems we had to solve before we could become a social species. In the 21st century, they have become the most important problems we need to solve again. Our global society has gotten so large and complex that our traditional trust mechanisms no longer work. Today's problems require new thinking, and Liars and Outliers provides that.
It is essential that we learn to think clearly about trust. Our future depends on it.
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Page Count (est.): 366
Pub Date: 2/2/2012