Thanks for the thoughtful response. Great summary. I think this is missing something:
We don't seem to have good social interfaces for large groups, perhaps because we cannot simulate large groups.
Not exactly what I was going for. Many actors + game theoretic concerns -> complex simulation. Eventually good simulation becomes intractable. However, when a common set of rules is enforced strongly enough, each individual's utility function aligns with that set of rules. This simplifies the situation and creates a higher level interface. This is why I thought to include enforcement as an important dimension.
In response to this:
Regarding mental prediction of group behavior as the definition of trust. I am not sure on this one. What about when you reliably predict someone will lie?
If you can reliably predict that someone's statements are untruths, then you can trust them to do the opposite of what they said. Sarcasm is trustworthy untruth. I think that the lack of trust arises only when I'm highly uncertain about which statements are truths vs. lies.
That said, I do think that this definition of trust is imperfect. You might "trust" your doctor to prescribe the right medicine, even if you don't know what decision they will make. I guess I could argue that my prediction is about the doctor acting in my best interest, rather than the particular action... I think the definition is imprecise, but still useful.
I appreciate the book recommendation and the intro to your thinking on this topic. I'll have to update when I have a chance to do the suggested reading :)
Hueristical decision-making is quick and practical. Experts tend to have better hueristics, and are usually in a better position to speculate about unfamiliar or uncertain treatments than laypeople. One good reason to be a fantasy-forbidding expert is that there are massive asymmetries in unvalidated medicine. The potential upside of taking vitamin X is probably small and bounded. The potential downside is unbounded.
That said, given the long history of traditional medicine, there are probably some effective treatments in the alternative medicine canon that just aren't yet well understood. Intellectual modesty is important.
Thanks for the link. Wish I'd read it earlier! That's a much better exposition of what I was trying to express here. :)
I do think that there's complication beyond even the two-layer model presented in "Studies on Slack". For example, maybe my company gives a lot of slack and looks at my value-add on a 5-year timeframe. At the same time, I have little personal slack around my annual bonus because I need to pay off loans. Perhaps the culture I live in has some different level of slack in its expectations for work. Although the two-layer model is a useful simplification, I'm not sure that the actual interactions are so neatly hierarchical.