Stefan Hyttfors: Our future depends on trust


Great article. You touch the real issue. We need to feel part of the social pathway. From my biased perspective, I believe that real CSR and wide and modern philanthropy are two of the pillars of ...

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At the penultimate talk of the Unleash World Conference and Expo, Stefan Hyttfors outlined how we lost our trust in society and how technology can help us regain it

A lack of trust can be dangerous in leading corporations towards short-termism, according to author and futurist Stefan Hyttfors.

"The problem today is that we don’t trust," he said. "We talk about populism and how it’s a growing problem. There has been systematic loss of faith in the system. Endelman’s Trust Barometer found that more and more people in the developed world are losing trust. They are saying: ‘no, I don’t believe that as a society we are on the right path'.

"And that’s a problem, because if we don’t trust and we believe things will just get worse, that will force us to look to short-term solutions. We focus on big, quick, easy wins."

He added: "This did not start with Brexit or Trump, let’s not kid ourselves. It started more than 25 years ago with the internet and with outsourcing. People became afraid about their security and about their jobs."

Hyttfors went on to explain the ‘second wave’ of our lack of trust, which arrived with the financial crash and, in the US, nine million people losing their jobs. He said that now large technology companies such as Google, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook have become the new source of our distrust.

“It doesn’t matter what industry you're in – this will affect your work, your life, and society in general. It’s not the bankers anymore,” he said.

As technology advances we are becoming increasingly uncertain, Hyttfors added. “We talk so much today about smart machines, artificial intelligence, but what’s the purpose? What problems are we trying to solve? Why should we trust these new solutions?" he asked.

"We have to understand and think about the pure and simple fact that we are entering a time where our experience and knowledge will be a very tiny proportion of the total intelligence available. And we don’t have a clue how that will turn out."

Hyttfors added that as scientists warn of the rapid destructive impact of climate change across the globe, we can no longer continue with “business as usual”. He said: “If we continue with business as usual there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans in 30 years' time. We must learn to do more with less.”

However, technology can provide the tools to tackle these issues, Hyttfors explained. “We know that we’re not that great with change as human beings, but there is something we do have and that’s technology," he said. "That’s our enabler; it means we can do more with less. That’s how humanity has always solved its problems.”

Historically, placing our faith in change has allowed society to progress, he said. “Remember one thing; we don’t need jobs. We need water, shelter, food, money and meaning. And how can we get money and meaning? That can change, but it all depends on trust. Trust, for thousands of years, has been built on acquaintance. We had the industrial revolution where there was institutionalised trust."

People will ultimately shape the future of work, he concluded: "Now, in the globalised digital revolution, the old institutions can’t deliver what we need anymore. We are now in a new time. It’s not about saving the planet, the planet will be fine, it’s about us. How much longer are we going to survive on this planet?

“Don’t ask people what they do, ask them why," he added. "If we want a good answer to that question we must trust in the future of work.”


Great article. You touch the real issue. We need to feel part of the social pathway. From my biased perspective, I believe that real CSR and wide and modern philanthropy are two of the pillars of the model we pursue.

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