Richard Pak, Clemson – Technological Trust

Can you put Richard Paktoo much trust in technology?

Richard Pak, a psychologist at Clemson University, is looking into when relying on computers has unintended consequences.

Richard Pak is human factors psychologist at Clemson University. His research examines the relationship between humans and automated technologies such as medical devices, fitness trackers, and in the future self-driving cars. By understanding the important ways in which trust forms and is maintained between users and their technology he hopes to enhance the beneficial effects of technology while minimizing the dangers. His research has been funded by Google, John Deere, and the Air Force. He received his PhD in psychology from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2005.

                                 Technological Trust


Have you ever yelled at your computer for not saving a file? Worried that the Google maps was leading you off course? 

Those are examples of situations where you over-trusted or under-trusted technology

As a cognitive psychologist, this is part of what I study.

More and more of our lives are being assisted by machines.  In many cases, they help us do tasks we either dont have time to do or dont care to do.  From small decisions like finding the best restaurant and getting the fastest directions or in the near future, actually driving us there.

But the machines help is not always helpful. 

Knowing when to accept good computer assisted choices and when to reject bad ones comes down to a very basic human behavior — trust. Just as we do in our relationships with each other, we build relationships with machines.

Humans find ourselves depending on hundreds of hidden choices made by machines every day. The outcomes can be beneficial, such as self-driving cars helping us improve highway safety and improve driving efficiency. Or they can be detrimental.  Accepting wrong actions because we trust too much could literally run us off a cliff.  

Our lab studies are showing us that many of the same trust issues we have with other people occur with machines. Some of us develop trust easily — perhaps too easily — causing dependence on the computer’s choices and ignoring better judgment.  Others hold back, reluctant to get involved with the new technology, missing out on many benefits in health and convenience. 

Research is continuing to examine what makes some technology trustable or not.  But also, examining why some people are more likely to trust technology than others.  Striking a balance is not the same for all of us but the results should ensure safe and enjoyable human-technology relationships in the future.