Minds and Machines

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 243–257 | Cite as

Modelling Trust in Artificial Agents, A First Step Toward the Analysis of e-Trust

  • Mariarosaria TaddeoEmail author


This paper provides a new analysis of e-trust, trust occurring in digital contexts, among the artificial agents of a distributed artificial system. The analysis endorses a non-psychological approach and rests on a Kantian regulative ideal of a rational agent, able to choose the best option for itself, given a specific scenario and a goal to achieve. The paper first introduces e-trust describing its relevance for the contemporary society and then presents a new theoretical analysis of this phenomenon. The analysis first focuses on an agent’s trustworthiness, this one is presented as the necessary requirement for e-trust to occur. Then, a new definition of e-trust as a second-order-property of first-order relations is presented. It is shown that the second-order-property of e-trust has the effect of minimising an agent’s effort and commitment in the achievement of a given goal. On this basis, a method is provided for the objective assessment of the levels of e-trust occurring among the artificial agents of a distributed artificial system.


Artificial agent Artificial distributed system e-Trust Trust Trustworthiness 



I am very grateful to Terrell W. Bynum, Charles M. Ess, Luciano Floridi, and Matteo Turilli for their helpful suggestions and conversations on previous drafts on which this article is based. They are responsible only for the improvements not for any remaining mistake.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Information Ethics GroupUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of HertfordshireHatfieldUK

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