Bridging the Human/Techno Gap Through Language
The idea that people have personal relationships with their technological devices is no foreign notion. Computers, iPods, cellphones and other devices come complete with customisation tools, encouraging you to make your technology more, well, you. We live in a world where iPhones are people’s ‘babies’, and the act of naming one’s laptop is considered as no threat to one’s sanity.
But, of course, along with all of this ‘doting’ behavior come the usual frustration and panic when our techno-babies crash, freeze, break and ultimately fail to perform in ways that we expect them to. This causes some of us to have limited trust in technology.
But is technology something that we can really trust? Is trusting technology even possible?
I stumbled upon this article, which discusses the difference between trust and confidence in relation to technology. According to author Norman Lewis, there is a tendency for people to use the word ‘trust’ in the place of ‘confidence’, yet these two terms are not interchangeable.
Having confidence implies expected outcomes; we are confident in something because we expect a specific result. We expect that the system/device/organisation will deliver what it has promised. Trust, however, is a distinctly human attribute, as it acknowledges the presence of free will:
"…the origins of trust are rooted in our recognition of the freedom of others to act freely. This is a fundamentally social act, which links trust to the ability to act autonomously, to recognise that in others, and to act outside of predefined or ascribed roles. In short, trust is a fundamental part of risk taking."
Considering that many of us don’t fully understand the nuts and bolts of artificial intelligence and the like, it’s not surprising that we regard technology as having ‘a mind of its own’. The trust/confidence confusion is a typical example of how language is used to bridge the gap between the familiar and the unfamiliar.