One Significant Way Human Trust is Significantly Flawed

I had a discussion the other day that reminded of something I had noticed decades ago (and had also discussed with people back then).

The difference between then and now boils down to this: whereas decades ago I thought this was something that we could and should fix, today I am quite doubtful whether it is something that can be fixed at all. Anyone who has ever been foolishly speeding down a highway in (or on) some vehicle and who all of sudden encounters slippery road conditions would only strongly “hit the brakes” if they were severely inexperienced. In many cases, turning things around on a dime is simply nearly impossible. I now believe the issue I was reminded of a few days ago is one of those cases which simply cannot be changed, and can only be accepted as one of those well-known “laws of nature”.

The issue has to do with human trust. Maybe not exclusively, but quite certainly humans have developed some very particular trust mechanisms over the millions of years in which our species has evolved. One such mechanism is the way trust is based on visual information — I spoke with a friend today about the way (for example) facial recognition is important and he supported this notion (and I consider him to be quite a specialist on the topic). Our species has evolved to be very dependent on visual data.

There’s just something different about receiving information from a human being with a face rather than an avatar with a photo.

Josepha Haden-Chomposy, “WordPress — In Person!” (WordPress Briefing #12, ca. 10:15 [ ] )

Since our brains are hardwired for being so strongly focused on visual data, many long-standing information technologies are also based on visual data. Although Josepha doesn’t quite put her finger on it, I believe what she is referring to is that whereas “in-the-flesh” humans are convincingly real and authentic, any visual representation can easily be manipulated and fake.

This divergence between things we perceive as trustworthy (yet which we perhaps ought to be skeptical of) and the technological manifestation of manipulative efforts (used in a wide variety of propaganda technologies to influence our thinking and behavior — and which perhaps ought to be considered distrustworthy because they are inherently meaningless and empty) seems to be a fundamental flaw in human beings.

This flaw is so deeply ingrained in our mental makeup, that perhaps we cannot even fight against it. If the fake is indiscernible from the real, then fooling naive people will continue and remain rampant, quick and easy as child’s play. Millions of years of evolution cannot simply be reversed overnight.

Any information technology strongly based on visual information ought to be interpreted as distrustworthy (which means “worthy of distrust“) — in sharp contrast (and completely opposite) to the way human trust mechanisms have developed through millions of years of evolutionary development. This should give any rational thinking person significant pause (to think about the current situation humanity is now in).

PS: yes, this has a LOT to do with “Social Business Regulation: Introduction & Socio BIZ Rule #1” [ ]

The WordPress Community: “Where we currently are, and where we are heading to”

That quote is from a talk Alain Schlesser [ ] gave at WordCamp Europe (WCEU) a few weeks ago in Porto (yet which I didn’t have a chance to attend “in the flesh”). I myself did not give a presentation, but I did ask Matt Mullenweg and Josepha Haden a question (see e.g. “Social Business Regulation: Introduction & Socio BIZ Rule #1” [ ] ). Alain’s talk can already be viewed at WordPress.TV [ ], but my question to Matt and Josepha is not available yet in video format at that site (however, you can see an image including an excerpt from my question here):

What do you believe WordPress should do in order to be among the world’s fittest marketplaces? [@]

I think I view the situation even more gravely than Alain. In my opinion, publishing — which has been one of the cornerstones of modern science for about half a millennium — is currently at risk of being subsumed among a very few very large companies. These global players (including Google, Amazon and perhaps a few more businesses involved in what I might refer to as “Spyware 2.0”) are now already able to manipulate the global population — which now show an extremely naive kind of blind faith (I myself have referred to Google as the “online Pope” for well over a decade).

Alain details many reasons why many people have become “unwilling or unable” to use the open Web (versus “native” Apps — and here, oddly, “native” refers to the hardware platforms of the smartphones they are using [1] ).

His entire talk is very informative and I feel it also simplifies very complex issues just enough to make it easily understandable for the wider community — and it is this issue, namely the wider community that I wish to focus on here.

He concludes with a rather simple (and at the same time important) question: There’s got to be a better way of turning the value you’re producing into the money you need to make it sustainable — what are some proposals for such a better way? [2]

I have such a proposal

I propose that WordPress should focus more attention towards the integration of “the wider community” as participants (and as contributors, in a wide variety of roles) than it currently does. I believe this would mean that the WordPress project should devote far more attention into turning “walled gardens” into more fluid marketplaces with more permeable membranes. I believe this is very much in line with the question I raised (which I have also written about quite extensively — a good starting point being the article I shared above [via] ). Obviously, there are security issues involved — and I strongly believe WordPress needs to step up its game in order to provide the wider audience with a justifiably stronger sense of security.

As one example of this, let me consider the role of “administrators” — the people keeping a WordPress site up and running from a “technological” perspective. Perhaps site owners would have a (justifiably) greater sense of security if they could “hand over the keys” to their site towards trusted (and as I argued in “Socio Biz Rule #1”: authenticated) partners — even more-so if they had different key for each of the different administrator types — such as web-designers, graphic-designers, database specialists, etc. — and likewise differentiated roles (and capabilities).

Community and teamwork belong on the same page — and this is true from the top levels all the way down to a participant who can do little or nothing more than to read or click a like button. In order for this to work, there needs to be a reliable way to discriminate between human beings and bots (again, simply as an example). I don’t mean 100% reliability, but I do mean reliable enough to guarantee that if an error happens, then it can be fixed in some way … to the satisfaction of each and every community participant.

[1] when you view my question @ WordPress.TV (I will update with a link as soon as it becomes available [ ] ), you will perhaps note that our discussion (@ ca. 21:30) also involves references these “open” versus “closed” (i.e. proprietary) platforms — you might also associate this with the “marketplace” versus the “cathedral” (a now widespread metaphor)
[2] note that I do not think money is a requirement — see also “Markets Without Money

Life Undrugged: Getting off online without all that greedy grid junk

So far, this is only an idea. Please feel free to contribute some comments and / or ideas of your own! 😀

The basic concept goes like this: We the people … don’t need no information pushed into our brains from any outside source. We already have everything we need. We just want to communicate with each other, in our own language, as natives, because we are made this way. We are humans, we use languages, we want to understand each other, we want to communicate.

Native communication doesn’t need any propaganda, ads, or similar BS technology. We just want to talk using regular language, thank you very much.

That said, there are indeed still some unresolved issues — such as:

  • is our community local or global?
  • do we use one language or many languages?
  • how do we respect diverse situations and contexts?

That is just a start. In general, this is a complex can of worms. Does that inspire you or intimidate you? Maybe both? Will you remain humble, or will you overcome any of your humility and be courageous enough to dare to know, dare to think, dare to believe, speculate, experiment, explore, whatever?

Yes? Start here & now! 😀