ECONOMICS

The Infinite Machine: How an Army of Crypto-hackers Is Building the Next Internet with Ethereum

Harper Business. Jul. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9780062886149. $28.99. BUS
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Journalist Russo makes her literary debut inspired by her fascination with Ethereum, a company whose cryptocurrency, ether, is the second-largest cryptocurrency after bitcoin. Formerly with Bloomberg, Russo has largely based her book on interviews she conducted with many people involved with Ethereum and cryptocurrency. She captures the idealism that motivates many of these people: a desire for a decentralized society possible now, they believe, via blockchain technology. Using blockchain, people will be able to interact with each other directly, without relying on intermediaries such as government, banks, and corporations. Ethereum wishes for individuals to have control over their money and their lives. The book narrates the efforts of Ethereum to build a world computer with an open-source protocol that will permit applications to be built by anyone who knows how, thus allowing people to avoid the large institutions that characterize modern society. The ether cryptocurrency allows people to use the portal. Russo is fairly (but not totally) successful in making the technology involved comprehensible to nontechnologists.
VERDICT This will appeal to people fascinated with the possibilities of cryptocurrency, as well as those interested in the personalities involved and the business history of the concept.

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