Human by Default: The New Imperative in Trust and Technology 

 March 27, 2024

By  Jane Frankland

I’ve been thinking about what it means to be human in our rapidly evolving digital landscape, and how interactions once filled with personal nuances are now frequently handled by algorithms and artificial intelligence. And I can’t help but be concerned that technology, especially advancements in artificial intelligence, is not just reshaping our world; it’s actually reshaping our identity and the fabric of trust that binds us.

There was a time when to prove one was human required nothing more than a face-to-face interaction. Today, however, online spaces ask us to click on traffic lights, type out distorted text, answer personal questions that only a human could know, or verify ourselves via email. We’ve become accustomed to these methods of verifying our humanness; however, with the rise of deepfake technology and other forms of cyber deception, these methods are no longer foolproof.

This has led to a new imperative in trust and technology – being human by default. As we rely more on digital interactions to prove our humanity, I believe we must also recognise the importance of maintaining our individuality and authenticity in these interactions. This goes beyond simply proving that we are human; it means preserving the unique qualities that make us who we are.

In order to achieve this, technology must be designed with human-centric values and ethics in mind. It’s not just about creating systems that can accurately identify a human being; it’s about creating systems that can truly understand and connect with us on a human level. This requires empathy, diversity, and inclusivity in the development and implementation of technology. Additionally, maintaining a critical eye and actively questioning the ethical implications of trust in technology. How do we ensure fair and unbiased decision-making by algorithms, serves as a good example, especially this Women’s History Month.

But this is just the surface of a much deeper issue that permeates our daily lives. Trust in technology is no longer just about verifying our identity or interactions online; it’s also about trusting the systems and institutions that use our data.

The Erosion of Trust by AI

AI advancements, for all their merits in enhancing efficiency and introducing incredible new capabilities, have inadvertently made us question everything—a dubious side effect in its crusade for a smarter world. Deepfakes rose 3000% in 2023, and along with chatbots, and sophisticated scams can now mimic human traits frighteningly well. The result? A baseline of skepticism about whether we’re interacting with people or code—a skepticism that extends into the digital ecosystems of business and personal communication.

Just think about what happened in Hong Kong last month when a finance worker of a multinational was duped into transferring $25 million to fraudsters who used artificial intelligence to disguise themselves on a video conference call.

Knowing Our Customer, Knowing Our Business

This uncertainty pushes the concept of “know your customer” (KYC) beyond compliance and regulation. KYC, traditionally a mechanism designed to prevent financial fraud and money laundering, is now a principle that should be ingrained in every digital interface, every customer service touchpoint, and indeed, every transaction. Because if businesses want to preserve what’s left of our eroding trust, they must make every effort to reassure customers of the humanity behind their operations.

But more than simply identifying our customers, we need to understand them—deeply, genuinely, humanly. That understanding transforms transactions into relationships and interfaces into interactions. It turns user data into a tool for better service, not just a means to an end.

Knowing Our Business Like Never Before

In parallel, there’s a call to thoroughly know our businesses—their values, their voices, and how they present themselves in the virtual and physical worlds. The authenticity of a business’s digital presence, their commitment to ethical data usage, and their transparency about AI-driven decisions are becoming significant determinants of customer trust.

Businesses need to be unwavering in their human approach. Technology should augment our service, not replace the personal touch. We should not hide behind screens of automation but rather ensure that technology underscores our human core.

The Human Imperative

Herein lies our new imperative: to declare our humanity and to codify it within the very systems that seem to undermine it. The human touch, the human face, and the human heart must remain prevalent amidst the zeros and ones of our digital era.

If we are to thrive in this AI-augmented reality, we must not lose sight of what it is to be human. We must blend the efficiency of AI with the empathy of human service. We must design systems that protect, value, and celebrate human uniqueness. Only then can we rebuild the trust that’s been eroded and reimagine a world where humans are, by default and by design, undeniably present at the helm.

The challenge, therefore, isn’t solely in proving that we are human—it’s in ensuring that our humanity is imbued in every facet of the technological world we continue to build. It’s a tall order, no doubt. But it’s a fundamental one because, without it, we risk creating a society where trust becomes the ultimate casualty of our greatest advancements.

Perhaps we don’t really need to prove we’re human. Perhaps we actually just need to prove that being human still matters.

Now I want to hear from you…

Let me know your thoughts on the impact of technology on our identity and trust. How do you think we can maintain and protect our humanity in this increasingly digital world? Drop me an email or join in the discussion on LinkedIn.

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Jane frankland


Jane Frankland is a cybersecurity market influencer, award-winning entrepreneur, consultant and speaker. She is the Founder of KnewStart and the IN Security Movement. Having held executive positions within her own companies and several large PLCs, she now provides agile, forward thinking organisations with strategic business solutions. Jane works with leaders of all levels and supports women in male dominated industries like cybersecurity and tech. Her book, IN Security: Why a failure to attract and retain women in cybersecurity is making us all less safe' is a best-seller.


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