Institutional pressures are rules established by a particular institution that you must abide by. Schneier believed that you need universal laws to achieve social order, the example of that is social contract theory when people willingly grant government power compelling ppl to choose long term group interests over self-interest to protect all citizens, without this pressure, defectors will ruin things inevitably, one of the examples without it is. Laws are only as good as society’s ability to enforce them provided fines are being assessed and collected, jail time is being served, they only make sense when they come with consequences. Elinor Ostrom won a Nobel prize for studying how societies deal with the trend of Tragedy of the commons. She also gave certain features of institutional pressure like:-

Credit: Getty Images/Handout      The Tragedy of the Commons Explained in One Minute - YouTube1.Everyone must understand the group interest and know what the group norm is  

2.The group must be able to modify the norm  

These pressures provide a basis for people to trust one another, for example, a certified doctor is more trusted. Like every other type of pressure, these fail too, for example, perfect security and the rate of crime being 0 doesn’t exist, you need a lot of institutional pressure to attain that leading to becoming a country like North Korea or no pressure like Somalia, they are two unhealthy extremes. The solution to this is to strike a balance between the polarities of interests.

Schneier ends this chapter with an interesting quote

“Sometimes and for some people, laws aren’t enough, sometimes the incentives to defect are worth the risk. That’s where technologies come in  ” 

Schneir likes to define Security systems as a way to technologically enhance natural defenses. They work even if a defector doesn’t realize that he/she is defecting. He concludes that eventually everything acts as a security system, for example, Morals as a preemptive intervention system, reputation as a detection system. Doubling our security budget, will not reduce defections risk, I feel it is different for everyone. Eventually, crimes only occur when passion overrides rationality. Security systems are often calls an experiential good because usually people dont understand the value of it until they have already bough , install and experienced it. The interesting example I liked was Robinhood, he is an example of a defector with a competing moral interest as his actions serve a greater good. One of the papers you will come across calls them “ Lethal Altruists “

Coming to organizations and corporations,  Schneier talks about how every type of pressure influences a particular organization in numerous ways. And how security systems work differently as it works against the individuals inside the organization and not the organization as a whole. Societal dilemmas are different for every person, it is hard to match them in a big group of people similar to an organization which is teemed of.An example of this is the principal-agent problem, the principal hires an agent to pursue the principal’s interests. But because the competing interests are different, cooperation will be difficult. But few corporations never stop functioning because of defections in the society is a testament to how well societal pressures work here. Usually, moral, reputational, and institutional pressures fail against them Some examples of corporations who managed to prevent defections are:-

1.National security agency analyst Thomas Drake

2.Nancy Fern Oliveri – Apotex

Nancy F. Olivieri - Convocation - Dalhousie University3.Jeff Baird – New York city police

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jeff Baird retires after 36 years | Employee News

One of the notable quotes that were mentioned “Corporations have neither body to be punished nor souls to be condemned, they, therefore, do as they like “

Corporations have managed to deliberately manipulate institutional pressures so they can directly benefit from them, they basically are changing laws to suit their desire without adding any value, this technique is known as rent-seeking. The size of organizations is proportional to the power they possess, with power comes the ability to defect. The goal of societal pressure is that we want high level of trust in the society , but it is too complex for the intimate form of trust , hence we settle for cooperation and compliance. The perfect balance needed in any society is , the need of security with side effects , unintended consequences and other considerations. One of the most important concept related to societal pressure is Scale , when that increases , people are forced to shift from trust to predictability and compliance.

Schneier feels that talking about trust in humans is more important first , as that influences how humans trust the technology. He doesn’t talk about technology until the last few chapters. With the increase of development in technology , the amount of damage by the defector groes . Even thought security technologies were invented , we were now needed to trust not only an institution but also the system. With time , humans tolerance towards risk decreased. New innovations and new ideas increase the scope of defectors in several dimensions. to an extent that defectors start innovating and finding easier , reliable ways to attack , resulting in a security gap , which has constantly being increased with new innovations as technology is an element available to all.  The solution to this is ,to design a societal pressure keeping in minds about certain features as follows

1.To understand the social dilemma

2.Consider all four pressures

3.Pay attention to scale

Foster empathy and community , increasing the moral and reputational pressures

5.Use of security systems to scale them

6.Finally harmonize institutional pressure across technologies and reduce the concentration of power by increasing transparency.

He concludes with saying that defectors will always exist and inevitably ruin everything for everyone , but we need to manage societal pressures to ensure they dont. Security is a process ,a never ending process not just a product. Trust is the key component of social capital society.

Dont you think we all defect in some point of our life , being selfish or just choosing self interest over everything , or our morality doesn’t always cooperate with the group norm . At the end of the day , the society needs defectors because we benefit from them .They are the outliers who resist popular opinions for morals or other reasons , who invent new technology counteracting others . Scheneir ends on a good of optimism that Defections represents an engine for innovation , an immunological challenge to ensure the health of the majority , a defense against the risk of monoculture and a catalyst for social change.Defectors are the reason of improving technology , we just need to control their possession of power .Ending

Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive by  Bruce Schneierit with a quote rightly said by Martin Luther kIng. Jr ” The arc of history is long , but it bends towards justice. “

Schneier loves to emphasize on the basics , he wants to completely understand how humans work in different situations and then he connects it with technology. He mainly talks about secuirty , trust and cooperation from not only the human angle but also how animals in the historic period went about it.  The soul and heart of this book were all the examples which were written by Schneier and how he analyses each one of them using historical theories. The book was solely based on the four types of pressures . He wrote about how they are created , modified and affect the society. This book proves that it is written by someone highly intellectual and is not a easy read. The two things I gained from this book was that , trust depends on how the society works and defectors shouldn’t always be considered negative ,  we need defectors to co-exist and grow in today’s world. It is a good book , if you love to research about how everything eventually connects to each other resulting on how we function in our day to day lives.


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