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THE INFINITE MACHINE

HOW AN ARMY OF CRYPTO-HACKERS IS BUILDING THE NEXT INTERNET WITH ETHEREUM

A slog, but it will interest small-L libertarian techies.

A deep dive into efforts to build the next internet, one free of government interference and regulation.

Russo, a leading cryptocurrency journalist, recounts the story of “an idealistic hero, his band of misfits, and the challenges they face to make their incredibly ambitious dream a reality.” The hero is Russian Canadian programmer Vitalik Buterin, gifted in mathematics and committed to a certain kind of anarchy, with numerous like-minded allies scattered across the globe. Some, like Russo, are South American, convinced that the key to breaking government control is to develop a cryptocurrency even more thoroughly hidden away than Bitcoin. But that’s only a start, a kind of proof of concept of a larger “world computer,” the dream in question, called Ethereum. Cryptocurrency is just beginning—however, notes the author, it now outstrips many national economies in capital. By way of an analogy, explains one of the players in this book, “email was to the internet what Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency, was to blockchain technology,” and Ethereum is bigger still, “bigger than any application built on top of it.” Though, as Russo writes, it turns out that cryptocurrency is subject to the familiar boom and bust of the business cycle, there are still plenty of hackers working on it, even as government agencies such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission seek to regulate it. The same is true of Ethereum, which seems more desirable than ever since “long-ago scrappy upstarts Facebook and Google had now become megacorporations serving as the main gateways to the internet.” Russo’s narrative, based on more than 100 interviews, is dense, detailed, and often overstuffed. It’s also quite arcane, and it could use some of the patient explication that Michael Lewis and Katie Hafner, among other technology writers, bring to bear on their work.

A slog, but it will interest small-L libertarian techies.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-288614-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper Business

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

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A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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