Trust: an exploration from within the programme
Impression of community meeting 19 april 2021
Responsible Innovation. Designing for Public Values in a Digital World
In april about 25 specialists from science and policy came together in a community meeting by the NWO programma ‘Responsible Innovation, Designing for Public Values in a Digital World’ to discuss the theme of trust.
Trust as a theme
At the start Ymkje de Boer, external advisor for knowledge sharing and chair person of the afternoon, explained that the theme of trust is already being addressed in some ways or others by the five projects in the program. ‘In addition, there are new questions or old questions that are not addressed yet. And trust is an upcoming theme that gets more and more urgent. So we would like to have an exchange of views. What do we mean by ‘trust’ and what are main issues to consider? What research in our program is already being done on this theme and what other questions are there?’
Professor Jeroen van den Hoven (Delft University of Technology), member of the board, gave a short introduction. ‘Trust does not come by itself; you have to design for it. But this sounds a lot more simple than it is. Is it even possible to design for trust? Maybe we first have to get a deeper understanding of what trust is. For example: we can rely on our plumber because we believe that he has the right skills to fix our tap. But do we automatically trust him with the silverware in the drawer? Trust is something between people. But what if people get replaced by AI? Luckily we have three eminent speakers who will give some reflections of this difficult subject.’
The role of expectations
‘Trust has to do with uncertainty and expectations of the actions of others. When you trust somebody those expectations are positive. When you trust a technology you have positive expectations of that technology.’ Esther Keymolen presented a model and reflected upon the specific context of data driven technology. Keymolen (Tilburg University) is working in the project The Role and Responsibilities of Public Actors in Distributed Networks Transparency, Trust and Legitimacy by Design.
Michael Nagenborg focused specifically on the relationship between trust and humanitarian principles, such as Neutrality, Impartiality and Independence. Nagenborg (University of Twente) is working in the project Disastrous Information: Embedding “Do No Harm” principles into innovative geointelligence workflows for effective humanitarian action.
Forms of trust
Balász Bodó distinguished between communal, private and public trust. He also presented a vicius circle of how trust comes and goes and in which technology plays an important role. ‘When the public trust breaks down, the government tends to use tech to reinstall it, but the tech itself is not trustworthy. And untrustworthy tech leads again to untrustworthy public services.’ Bodó (University of Amsterdam) is one of the initiators of the meeting, working on a agenda of questions on trust).
Questions that were discussed
In small groups the researchers, policymakers and other specialist talked about knowledge questions. Questions that were discussed were for instance:
- What are robust trust cues in the data driven age? (Standardization? Verification mechanisms? Who develops these?)
- Where does trust fit in the Maslow concept? Where do we put it and how does it relate to other strategies we have to deal with uncertainty?
- What is the interaction between cybersecurity and trust?
- How and when did the moralization of trust happen? Why do we consider trust to be something good and desirable?
- How trustworthy are institutions and collaborations, if no person is fully aware of the consequences of their doings?
- Technology around us is complex and it is difficult for individuals and institutes to deal with them. How do we govern this? What organizational structures are required?
- How can we include certain social groups that have been left behind or excluded in engaging with technologies and reinvolve them to social imaginaries behind technology?