Trust and Progress

by Nam Chu Hoai about 9 years ago

The more we've thought about trust at Webcred, the more we have realized that trust is an integral part of societal development. Increases in trust have led to many human advances, while trust’s absence has resulted in many setbacks.

From the beginning, trust has led people to live efficient, productive lives. The first hunter-gatherers worked in groups to hunt large animals. They had to trust one another to complete their assigned duties and to share the rewards of their labor equally. When humans discovered that working cooperatively is more efficient than working independently, they began to live in small societies of about 150 people.

On the other hand, trust’s absence has led to warfare, a flagrant squandering of resources. People have fought over land, resources, power and money, and distrust between groups always played a role. Successful societies grew in size by building trust between people and sharing resources.

Roman soldiers agreed to fight because they trusted their leaders to provide them with food, money, and weapons. Likewise, farmers cultivated their crops because they were guaranteed protection from invaders.

One technology crucial to human progress was the development of a codified set of laws guaranteed by a government. Once citizens knew exactly how their society would respond to their actions and the actions of others, they could devote less time to worrying about threats and more time to engaging in productive activity.

Instead of building moats around their houses to keep people out, people could build plows to make farming easier or wagons to make transport faster. A more trustworthy government means better off citizens.

There are countless other examples of the importance of trust in human history. Building more trust in our rapidly changing society could only allow us to continue to progress.

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