CAN YOU TRUST THIS MAN?
Trust Science’s Ashif Mawji is hoping his algorithms combined with artificial intelligence can reveal the answer
>>> Ashif Mawji, serial entrepreneur and keynote speaker at this year’s Fast Growth 50 conference, is building a digital platform to determine the trustworthiness of people, places and businesses. No, this is not like that sinister app, Peeple (which would see people rating each other as they might a local restaurant). Trust Science, he insists, is trustworthy.
ALBERTA VENTURE: How does it work? ASHIF MAWJI: We look at about 38 data points, everything from your social media activity to court data to transactional data, and the proprietary algorithms draw inferences. Then there are parameters: Let’s say I want to lend you $1,000. It’s going to tell me how trustworthy you are in terms of paying that back. If I change the loan to $1,000,000, it will give me a different number. The same thing goes for recruiting or dating or using the shared economy.
AV: So I can punch in someone’s name and get feedback? AM: Yes, and you can get a context score, which lets you say, “I want to hire Ashif to be my general counsel,” and in that case my trustworthiness level will come lower because I’ve never been a general counsel. I don’t even have a law degree. But if you say you want Ashif to be an entrepreneur in residence, well my trust score will come in higher.
AV: How does it work for places and businesses? AM: Let’s say I want to move into a particular neighbourhood. The data points there will be the houses bought and sold, crime data and stuff like that. For businesses, we’ll look at product recalls, lawsuits, online activity and return policies. AV: Is the data out there good enough? AM: You’d be surprised what’s out there, and it’s all public. You just have to dig. A lot of the things we’re doing, someone with good online skills could do manually, but it would take you two or three days to check one person out. You use our system and you get it in five seconds.
AV: You’re not asking for feedback or input from people? AM: We don’t believe in feedback or ratings because we think that can be gamed. We think there’s enough data out there so we can objectively calculate. Let’s say there’s a newspaper article on me. You could have 100 people make comments. We read those comments but most importantly we look at who is making those comments and how trustworthy they are in that field. If it’s a story on artificial intelligence and a professor who teaches AI makes a comment, that’s going to have a much higher credibility than Joe Blow talking about AI.
AV: How does the AI play into Trust Science? AM: You’re basically training the machine. It’s looking at patterns and saying, “These patterns result in this action.” So you throw a whole bunch of data at it and it applies the intelligence to say, “If those patterns equal X, then these patterns equal Y.”
AV: Is Trust Science commercially available? AM: We’re in a beta one: A few people have it. Beta two will be out around February. We have banks, recruiting firms and alternative lenders lined up. We have law-enforcement and shared-economy partners. We’re getting our agreements in place and they’ll start beta two when it’s released. Then we’ll be commercial around Q2 of next year. – Michael Ganley