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The Squandered Potential of Bitcoin and Blockchain


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At the LA Review of Books, legal scholar Kevin Werbach reviews three recent books that explore the history, technology, and outsized personalities behind the frenzy over Bitcoin and blockchain. As Werbach writes, the programmers and thinkers behind the development of modern cryptocurrencies include an uneasy mix of community-oriented utopians and money-hungry libertarians. Bitcoin and blockchain, suggests Werbach, can realize their liberatory potential only if they are opened to regulation and transparency. Check out an excerpt of the review below.

The belief in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as platonic systems that eliminate the need for human governance nurtures an ethos of anything-goes nihilism. Bitcoin was conceived of as a way to replace central bankers with the infallible execution of software algorithms: rule by law embodied in code and cryptography. Yet, because it accords no special significance to decisions made by democratically elected and legally sovereign governments, the movement that developed around Bitcoin stands in direct opposition to the normal understanding of “the rule of law.” It is thus no surprise that prominent figures, such as economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, believe that “Bitcoin is evil.”

Image via The Verge.