Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain: Bitcoin, Blockchain, Ethereum & Smart Contracts

David Gerard
2
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An experimental new Internet-based form of money is created that anyone can generate at home; people build frightening firetrap computers full of video cards, putting out so much heat that one operator is hospitalised with heatstroke and brain damage.

A young physics student starts a revolutionary new marketplace immune to State coercion; he ends up ordering hits on people because they might threaten his great experiment, and is jailed for life without parole.

Fully automated contractual systems are proposed to make business and the law work better; the contracts people actually write are unregulated penny stock offerings whose fine print literally states that you are buying nothing of any value.

The biggest crowdfunding in history attracts $150 million on the promise that it will embody “the steadfast iron will of unstoppable code”; upon release it is immediately hacked, and $50 million is stolen.

How did we get here?

David Gerard covers the origins and history of Bitcoin to the present day, the other cryptocurrencies it spawned including Ethereum, the ICO craze and the 2017 crypto bubble, and the attempts to apply blockchains and smart contracts to business. Plus a case study on blockchains in the music industry.

Bitcoin and blockchains are not a technology story, but a psychology story.

Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

“A sober riposte to all the upbeat forecasts about cryptocurrency” — New York Review of Books

“A very convincing takedown of the whole phenomenon” — BBC News

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About the author

David Gerard is a Unix system administrator by day. His job includes keeping track of exciting new technologies and advising against the bad ones. He was previously an award-winning music journalist, and has blogged about music at Rocknerd.co.uk since 2001. He is a volunteer spokesman for Wikipedia, and is on the board of the RationalMedia Foundation, host of skeptical wiki RationalWiki.org. His website is davidgerard.co.uk. He lives in east London with his spouse Arkady and their daughter. Until he reinstalled the laptop they were on, he was the proud owner of six Dogecoins. 

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Additional Information

Publisher
David Gerard
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Published on
Jul 24, 2017
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Pages
182
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ISBN
9781974000067
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economics / General
True Crime / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Jeremy Rifkin
In The Zero Marginal Cost Society, New York Times bestselling author Jeremy Rifkin describes how the emerging Internet of Things is speeding us to an era of nearly free goods and services, precipitating the meteoric rise of a global Collaborative Commons and the eclipse of capitalism.

Rifkin uncovers a paradox at the heart of capitalism that has propelled it to greatness but is now taking it to its death—the inherent entrepreneurial dynamism of competitive markets that drives productivity up and marginal costs down, enabling businesses to reduce the price of their goods and services in order to win over consumers and market share. (Marginal cost is the cost of producing additional units of a good or service, if fixed costs are not counted.) While economists have always welcomed a reduction in marginal cost, they never anticipated the possibility of a technological revolution that might bring marginal costs to near zero, making goods and services priceless, nearly free, and abundant, and no longer subject to market forces.

Now, a formidable new technology infrastructure—the Internet of things (IoT)—is emerging with the potential of pushing large segments of economic life to near zero marginal cost in the years ahead. Rifkin describes how the Communication Internet is converging with a nascent Energy Internet and Logistics Internet to create a new technology platform that connects everything and everyone. Billions of sensors are being attached to natural resources, production lines, the electricity grid, logistics networks, recycling flows, and implanted in homes, offices, stores, vehicles, and even human beings, feeding Big Data into an IoT global neural network. Prosumers can connect to the network and use Big Data, analytics, and algorithms to accelerate efficiency, dramatically increase productivity, and lower the marginal cost of producing and sharing a wide range of products and services to near zero, just like they now do with information goods.

The plummeting of marginal costs is spawning a hybrid economy—part capitalist market and part Collaborative Commons—with far reaching implications for society, according to Rifkin. Hundreds of millions of people are already transferring parts of their economic lives to the global Collaborative Commons. Prosumers are plugging into the fledgling IoT and making and sharing their own information, entertainment, green energy, and 3D-printed products at near zero marginal cost. They are also sharing cars, homes, clothes and other items via social media sites, rentals, redistribution clubs, and cooperatives at low or near zero marginal cost. Students are enrolling in free massive open online courses (MOOCs) that operate at near zero marginal cost. Social entrepreneurs are even bypassing the banking establishment and using crowdfunding to finance startup businesses as well as creating alternative currencies in the fledgling sharing economy. In this new world, social capital is as important as financial capital, access trumps ownership, sustainability supersedes consumerism, cooperation ousts competition, and "exchange value" in the capitalist marketplace is increasingly replaced by "sharable value" on the Collaborative Commons.


Rifkin concludes that capitalism will remain with us, albeit in an increasingly streamlined role, primarily as an aggregator of network services and solutions, allowing it to flourish as a powerful niche player in the coming era. We are, however, says Rifkin, entering a world beyond markets where we are learning how to live together in an increasingly interdependent global Collaborative Commons.

Instaread
John Perkins
Shocking Bestseller: The original version of this astonishing tell-all book spent 73 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has sold more than 1.25 million copies, and has been translated into 32 languages.

New Revelations: Featuring 15 explosive new chapters, this expanded edition of Perkins's classic bestseller brings the story of economic hit men (EHMs) up to date and, chillingly, home to the US. Over 40 percent of the book is new, including chapters identifying today's EHMs and a detailed chronology extensively documenting EHM activity since the first edition was published in 2004.

Former economic hit man John Perkins shares new details about the ways he and others cheated countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. Then he reveals how the deadly EHM cancer he helped create has spread far more widely and deeply than ever in the US and everywhere else—to become the dominant system of business, government, and society today. Finally, he gives an insider view of what we each can do to change it.

Economic hit men are the shock troops of what Perkins calls the corporatocracy, a vast network of corporations, banks, colluding governments, and the rich and powerful people tied to them. If the EHMs can't maintain the corrupt status quo through nonviolent coercion, the jackal assassins swoop in. The heart of this book is a completely new section, over 100 pages long, that exposes the fact that all the EHM and jackal tools—false economics, false promises, threats, bribes, extortion, debt, deception, coups, assassinations, unbridled military power—are used around the world today exponentially more than during the era Perkins exposed over a decade ago.

The material in this new section ranges from the Seychelles, Honduras, Ecuador, and Libya to Turkey, Western Europe, Vietnam, China, and, in perhaps the most unexpected and sinister development, the United States, where the new EHMs—bankers, lobbyists, corporate executives, and others—“con governments and the public into submitting to policies that make the rich richer and the poor poorer.”

But as dark as the story gets, this reformed EHM also provides hope. Perkins offers a detailed list of specific actions each of us can take to transform what he calls a failing Death Economy into a Life Economy that provides sustainable abundance for all.
David Gerard
An experimental new Internet-based form of money is created that anyone can generate at home; people build frightening firetrap computers full of video cards, putting out so much heat that one operator is hospitalised with heatstroke and brain damage.

A young physics student starts a revolutionary new marketplace immune to State coercion; he ends up ordering hits on people because they might threaten his great experiment, and is jailed for life without parole.

Fully automated contractual systems are proposed to make business and the law work better; the contracts people actually write are unregulated penny stock offerings whose fine print literally states that you are buying nothing of any value.

The biggest crowdfunding in history attracts $150 million on the promise that it will embody “the steadfast iron will of unstoppable code”; upon release it is immediately hacked, and $50 million is stolen.

How did we get here?



David Gerard covers the origins and history of Bitcoin to the present day, the other cryptocurrencies it spawned including Ethereum, the ICO craze and the 2017 crypto bubble, and the attempts to apply blockchains and smart contracts to business. Plus a case study on blockchains in the music industry.

Bitcoin and blockchains are not a technology story, but a psychology story.

Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

“A sober riposte to all the upbeat forecasts about cryptocurrency” — New York Review of Books

“A very convincing takedown of the whole phenomenon” — BBC News
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