29 November 2015

Trustworthiness: Accelerating into our Digital Future...

As the moon descends into the Western horizon this morning, there is growing uncertainty across the globe.  We are heading into the last month of 2015 when much of the world gathers family and friends to celebrate.  Our trustworthiness as people, businesses and countries is continuously in question.

The Operational Risk Management ORM) professionals are working 24 x 7 to continue to do what is humanly possible, to make our communities, businesses, religious and educational institutions and governments more safe and secure.

At the root of many of the disputes, conflicts, suits, feuds or wars is the subject of "Trust".  On a wide spectrum in each relationship, domain or system, the decision to trust is something that many never even think about.  At the most fundamental level, the spectrum could be represented like this:

Zero Trust  >>>>>>  Trust Exists  >>>>>>  Implicit Trust

On this spectrum of trust, the rules, conditions, environment, interactions and experience move our human emotions across and back and forth on the scale from zero trust to implicit.  In the human relations scenario our words, behaviors and actions continuously move our level of trust back and forth on this "Trust Spectrum".

What about computing machines?  How often do you think about the "Spectrum of Trust" when it comes to one computer trusting another computer?  If you are a programmer, data scientist, forensics engineer or even an attorney or doctor, this is something you think about all the time.

Now there is a data revolution, that has been evolving for just a short 20 years since the commercial launch of the Internet.  The birth of the iPhone about five years ago, has now accelerated the small light weight radio transmitters for wireless communications into powerful handheld data computers.

Has your level of trust increased on the spectrum when it comes to what you read or see on your iPhone?  The ubiquitous utilization of tools and sensors such as GPS has transformed the way humans can navigate across our planet, sailing, flying, driving or on foot.  The sensors we trust and the computers that are trusting other computers, is something that we rarely even question.

The computing machines have become a way of life now for those children who are learning how to read, do mathematics and solve puzzles even before their first days in a traditional school.  Their trust in the rules, the sensors and the words and pictures they see, shall forever influence their perceptions of trust.

In the early days of trusted computing there were peer-to-peer services such as Napster and Skype. Today there are emerging new technologies gaining momentum such as blockchain.  In essence, a shared trusted ledger that everyone can inspect.  Even "Open Source" software has gained attention because of the transparency issue.

Your decision to trust and computers making "Trust Decisions" are a series of mathematical calculations.  The formula includes rules, information and is happening at light speed.  They are also happening in our brains and the brain is processing all of what it knows about the rules, data and our contextual understanding.

Computers making "Trust Decisions" are the result of humans inventing the languages and algorithms for the computers to understand each other.  We now must transition our thinking from the simplicity of just risk management, to the formality and trustworthiness of "Trust Decisions".  The discipline of engineering and mathematics is making its way towards those places that were once deemed too "Soft" for pure logic or formality.

Perhaps sometime in the near future, our digital identities, travel history, conversations, messaging, patterns of life and activity-based intelligence, will all be merged into a single digital "persona".  What then?

Will this then be transformed into a new 21st century version of the "FICO Score"?  Will our thinking be forever changed about our spectrum of trust?  What if the new "Trustworthiness Score" was on a scale from zero to 100?  What if the rules, information and calculations of the future determined where you stand at any point in time, in terms of your trustworthiness as a human being?

The time has come for our "Trust Decisions" to accelerate, by the use of trusted computers to assist humans, make more informed decisions, human-to-human and machine-to-machine.

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