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Quantifying Reputation at The World Table

31 January 2015 (updated 21 August 2020)

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Quantifying Reputation at The World Table

I’m excited to announce that I’ve accepted the position of Senior Vice President and Chief Product Officer at The World Table, and I want to tell you why.

For two decades, I’ve worked in information technology, including leadership roles in software engineering and marketing technology. For about half that time, I’ve seriously networked with engineers, scientists, futurists, philosophers, and others interested in emerging technology and its cultural ramifications. And for the last year or so, I’ve worked as a technology and culture consultant. Along the way, I’ve collaborated with interesting people, worked on fascinating projects, and encountered inspiring ideas. Some of the best ideas, projects, and people are coming together at The World Table.

The World Table exists to help everyone identify, develop, and benefit from trustworthy relationships. Accordingly, it is building a quantified reputation platform to aggregate reputation data and report trust scores for individuals and organizations. Think of trust scores like credit scores for the emerging reputation economy. Beyond accounting for risk in economic matters, they also account for risk in social and cultural and intellectual matters.

Because The World Table believes that your reputation is not something it should or even could own, and a system for promoting trust must itself be trustworthy, the quantified reputation platform is decentralized and open source. In other words, no one, not even The World Table, owns or controls anyone else’s reputation, the data and algorithms and results are transparent, and everyone can contribute to making them better.

The first application built on the platform is a comment system for online publishers, like news websites and blogs. Just about everyone recognizes that comment systems are broken. With little or nothing to lose, some of us unleash our antisocial and sadistic sides, overrunning others with distracting and destructive commentary. But there’s hope. When our reputations are on the line, most of us choose to behave better – and that also happens to translate into more valuable web properties.

Why does this excite me?

First of all, I want to use The World Table comment system personally. I often write about sensitive and controversial subjects. I aspire to doing that with honesty, respect, and fairness, while still being likable. I also want to discuss these difficult subjects with others, particularly those who may disagree with me, in ways that are mutually beneficial, whether the results are changed opinions or simply improved understandings. I believe The World Table comment system will help me and many others have better conversations.

More importantly, I’m excited about the quantified reputation platform because I believe it could enable unprecedented global levels of trust, cooperation, and compassion.

Think of quantified reputation as being analogous to the mirror. The mirror gives you quick and precise feedback, which makes it easier for you to improve your appearance. Because of the mirror, most of us surely achieve and maintain substantially better appearance than our ancestors did before it was invented.

Similarly, quantified reputation can provide a feedback loop that would help most of us achieve and maintain better behavior than ever before. Nascent trust toward strangers would be easier and safer to adopt, leading to more attempts at instrumental cooperation and related benefits, in turn leading to more opportunities for all of us to mature in genuine compassion for each other.

The stage is set for someone to build this. The social challenges and opportunities have presented themselves. The economic incentives are enormous. The needed technologies are available. The World Table is putting together a talented team and strong partnerships, informed of a broad-minded and big-hearted philosophy, to take a collaborative approach to this project.

We’re looking for team members, partners, and investors! Want to work together? Contact The World Table, or let me know in the comments below – a pre-release version of The World Table comment system, full of bugs you can help us squash.

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