Society can't function without trust, and our complex, interconnected, and global society needs a lot of it. We need to be able to trust the people we interact with directly: as we sit next to them on airplanes, eat the food they serve us in the cabin, and get into their taxis when we land. We need to be able to trust the organizations and institutions that make modern society possible: that the airplanes we fly and the cars we ride in are well-made and well-maintained, that the food we buy is safe and their labels truthful, that the laws in the places we live and the places we travel will be enforced fairly. We need to be able to trust all sorts of technological systems: that the ATM network, the phone system, and the Internet will work wherever we are. We need to be able to trust strangers, singly and in organizations, all over the world all the time. We also need to be able to trust indirectly; we need to trust the trust people we don't already know and systems we don't yet understand. We need to trust trust.
Making this all work ourselves is impossible. We can't even begin to personally verify, and then deliberately decide whether or not to trust, the hundreds—thousands?—of people we interact with directly, and the millions of others we interact with indirectly, as we go about our daily lives. That's just too many, and we'll never meet them all. And even if we could magically decide to trust the people, we don't have the expertise to make technical and ...