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The Truth Machine: The Blockchain and the Future of Everything

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  849 ratings  ·  103 reviews
"Views differ on bitcoin, but few doubt the transformative potential of Blockchain technology. The Truth Machine is the best book so far on what has happened and what may come along. It demands the attention of anyone concerned with our economic future." --Lawrence H. Summers, Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard, Former Treasury Secretar ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 27th 2018 by St. Martin's Press (first published February 2018)
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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May 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This could have been good, but they got enough details wrong (not due to facts changing, but just sloppiness and bad editing), plus a huge amount of filler (half of the book?) that it wouldn’t be worthwhile for most people. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of other better books about cryptocurrency beyond the initial bitcoin and basic blockchain tech level.

I’m a relative expert in this topic (involved in anonymous electronic cash and similar projects since 1992, currently working in the cryptocurren
Vikas Erraballi
Mar 15, 2018 rated it liked it
50% speculation and fluff; 20% talking their book. I feel dumber for having read it.
Gary Moreau
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a primer on blockchain technology written by two experienced financial journalists with a ringside seat. They previously wrote a book about Bitcoin, the first, but far from only, application of blockchain technology, also known as distributed ledger technology. It’s the basic technology behind “token economics” and is conceptually associated with peer-to-peer and decentralized processing.

The authors provide a current snapshot of industry developments and a thoughtful review of the
Feb 17, 2021 rated it liked it
Essentially a sequel to the authors excellent primer on blockchain technologies, "The Age of Cryptocurrency." The book goes over the basics of how the blockchain ledger is managed and then enters into speculative ideas over how a permissionless system of trust might reshape society. They are very much on the maximalist side, which makes the analysis more fun, seeing the possibility of a post-work world where with the help of blockchain everything is automated and optimized and much human labor h ...more
Maciej Nowicki
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
So many times I complained because I couldn’t understand the phenomenon of Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies. I didn’t understand how they are created, and why their value is so volatile. From my point of view, fueled by banks and other authorities, it was clear speculation, an investment bubble created by our basic instincts, driven by a bunch of greedy guys.

The Truth Machine explores a short history of publicly maintained databases, such as Wikipedia and presents it as an excellent example o
Graeme Newell
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audible
I sought out this book hoping to learn more about how blockchain technology works. The author did a good job expounding on the opportunities this technology offers. I have a much clearer understanding of how blockchain works and some of the drawbacks. The author has a vast knowledge of the history and current state of blockchain and I really appreciated getting an insider’s viewpoint.

This book was exhaustively researched and has a huge amount of information in it. I was mightily impressed with h
Jim Lavis
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, why aren’t we seeing this in the news! Decentralized blockchain technology is changing the world as we know it.

As stated in this book, “If the future foreseen by this book comes to pass, we’ll witness the biggest employment shakeup the world has ever seen. And this time, the most vulnerable jobs are not the usual suspects: the factory workers, the low-level clerks, or the retail store assistants.

“Now it’s the accountants, the bankers, the portfolio managers, the insurers, the title office
Feb 10, 2020 rated it liked it
I should've known just by the bombastic title - "..the future of EVERYTHING'" that parts of the book would be sketchy, to say the least.

I get that the authors truly feel humanity is on the cusp of a revolution, but that feeling just isn't justified by the facts they present: Government 'middlemen' won't all be going away any time soon, there are still decisionmakers behind the technology who need to make policy decisions about it (e.g hard forks), and none of it is scalable at this point in time
Suleiman Arabiat
Feb 06, 2022 rated it did not like it
A waste of time and money.

Basically this is a long rant about the future of Blockchain and where it "could" affect our lives. The authors shoved Blockchain wherever any new inventor took it into the book, addressing healthcare, industrial, finance, and any other solution with the same utopianism that Blockchain advocates are characterized with.

It simply could have been a long article, as the book never goes deep enough to analyze any of the "revolutionary" ideas that it collected, and continues
Alexander Fitzgerald
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really didn't know a single thing about blockchain before reading this book. For that reason, this title was excellent for me, as I took it as an overview for the layperson as to what blockchain could theoretically do and what it has already done.

It did a great job of accomplishing its aim to educate the unwashed masses like myself. I actually didn't mind it's political sections either, unlike most people. As a Libertarian, it was refreshing to hear commentators from The Left who are so well s
Ismail Mayat
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant absolutely brilliant, no nonsense factual information about the potential of blockchain. It's restored my faith in the technology having been disillusioned with it after actually experimenting with Ethereum and attending quite a few blockchain meetups.

It's not technology heavy and covers wide range of potential applications.
Daniel Simmons
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it
The first third of this book does a better job than most of explaining in layman's terms what a blockchain is and what its potential benefits are. But the rest of the book feels half-finished, planting several seeds that don't ever find a full flowering. Perhaps that's the drawback of writing about a subject that is evolving so quickly -- every new day's headlines would seem to demand an alteration or updating of the blockchain story, and any book on the subject has to decide to go to press at S ...more
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Nothing in this book a person couldn’t learn from reading a handful of blogs, articles and a little documentation.
Ben Rothke
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
The hype cycle is a branded graphical presentation developed and used by Gartner to represent the maturity, adoption and social application of specific technologies. The five phases of the hype cycle are:

Technology Trigger
Peak of Inflated Expectations
Trough of Disillusionment
Slope of Enlightenment
Plateau of Productivity

The 2017 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies has blockchain in the Peak of Inflated Expectations. In The Truth Machine: The Blockchain and the Future of Everything, authors
Rick Wilson
Jul 22, 2021 rated it did not like it
Shelves: crypto, tech
Yuck. Authors misconstrue facts to suit their purposes. Most of the examples are really poorly thought out. And what emerges is a sort of echo chamber book that might resemble the conversation you and your friends had about why you all bet on dogecoin circa 2019.

For example, the authors lead into the book with The idea that public trust has eroded in large institutions. Fair enough. But they make the bold statement that it all started with the collapse of Lehman Brothers. What? Everyone knows t
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Dude1: so did you hear about blockchain?
Dude2: that bitcoin thing?
Dude1: yeah, but it's like way bigger than that. It's going to change the world.
Dude2: No way! How? Give me some examples.
Dude1: Well it can help out the 'unbanked' people in 3rd world countries.
Dude2: ....
Dude1: And it can usher in the self-sovereign individual so you aren't reliant on "the man"
Dude2: uh...
Dude1: And it's totally going to disintermediate the 3rd party 'trusted' parties.
Dude2: you sure it's not 1998 all over aga
Antoine Balaine
Jun 30, 2021 rated it did not like it
So disappointed

Starts with a blurry tech explanation on a patronizing tone, and moves on to a wide review of possible blockchain applications without ever looking critically at their tradeoffs and downsides.

Between blindsighted technologist ideology, poor tech insight, an obsession for market inefficiencies, a blatant disregard for social consequences & for countries' sovereignties, not a word on the monetary properties of BC, and a clear misunderstanding of energy's role in economics, the book
Beau Robicheaux
Jul 28, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm a bit saddened that this book is consistently brought-up as one of the best primers on blockchain. I find the writing to be stilted and predictable...at times, it feels like the written version of a big blockchain infomercial, where nearly every societal ill is magically solved via blockchain.

The key premise the book argues (and repeats, and repeats, and repeats some more) is that blockchain removes the role of the "trusted 3rd party." Great—transactions will be cheaper and more democratic.
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-books
This is a follow-on book about blockchain and cryptocurrencies by the authors of "Age of Cryptocurrencies", Paul Vigna and Michael Casey. While their first book was first published in Jan 2015 and mostly about bitcoin and how its creation ignited the world of cryptocurrencies, the "Truth Machine" discusses mostly the blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies, its many possible real-world applications. The book also covers the ICO craze that started in 2016 and reac ...more
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: innovation, e-book
Most people who have heard of Blockchain have the media and other news outlets as their source for information. I find most of what is out there as not accurate, highly overblown (both good and bad) and just too much noise. That's not to say there hasn't been good information out there, but it is difficult for someone not in the field to separate uninformed opinions from facts.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a Blockchain event and this book was a topic of discussion by someone who has been involv
Aug 16, 2021 added it
I get it: DLT, Bitcoin, smart contracts, ICOs and tokens...this is all new and exciting. And indeed: who knows how all of this will develop. So a critical engagement with claims actors in the crypto space make would have been welcome. At least thats what I was hoping to get (plus some insights on the mechanisms/intuitions behind various financial crypto products that are hailed as being potentially revolutionary).
Instead, what you get is a concatenation of seemingly disparate ideas of how all o
Jason Carter
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Like many of you, I suspect, my knowledge of blockchain prior to reading this book was limited. Friday night, I attended the public revealing of SUKU--a blockchain technology developed by Citizen's Reserve--at the home of some friends. There, I met the principals of the company, including the former lead of Deloitte's global blockchain group. This book was given away for free, and I began reading immediately.

Take note of the title: "The Truth Machine." The authors claim, perhaps provocatively, t
Jul 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I skimmed through this book (hence the 3 stars). If you're looking for a book to explain blockchain (transactions bundled into a block chain by cryptographic locks) and bitcoin in a technical way, this is not the book. This book is great for providing you with a series of events (news) and contexts behind Blockchain technology in recent years (it started in 2008/2009). Blockchain technology is new technology that the author believes will lead to the 4th industrial revolution - the first 3 are ag ...more
Jose Sbuck
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science
An introduction to blockchain technology. I was hoping to learn real and concrete facts about blockchains, blockchain applications, and their economic and technical significance. Instead I got to read high level speculation (and even hype) about blockchain's potential, along with off-hand forecasts. The authors seem to quote press releases and drop big numbers:

..is worth about $20 trillion. If poor people could use that capital as collateral, he says, the multiplier effect from all that credit f
Warren Mcpherson
Starting with a look at the properties of bitcoin that are special and valuable, the book opens a discussion about where there are real opportunities for further valuable innovation. The invention of a digital asset that can not be easily replicated is a fascinating development that does deserve exploration.

This is a philosophical discussion touching immutable records, radically distributed systems, personal sovereignty particularly over one's data and identity. The authors talk about what it me
Sep 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, business
I have been dipping my toe into the blockchain world, seeing it as a disruption to the financial world. I picked this book off of the library shelf to learn more about where blockchain will take us.

If you are someone who doesn't know much about blockchains, the various players and the history, this is a good overview. If you are someone, like me, who is continually reading about that world, there isn't much here that is new or interesting. Read Crypto Medium articles. As the blockchain world is
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: technology
The Blockchain is a huge (possibly positive) development in the world of information technology. But if you are looking for a primer on this new development, The Truth Machine is not your book. The work does however do an adequate job of describing many of the innovative players in the rapidly-evolving world of the Blockchain.

The major flaw of this book is its continual sneering against the 45th president of the United States. (What does this have to do with a recent re-telling of new informatio
May 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
In 7th grade a classmate told me how to skim a book: “read the first and last sentences of each paragraph, only.”
That advice applies to this book, a seemingly hastily written follow up to their very good The Age of Crypocurrency.
And there is a big flaw in both books: why should we assume that cryptocurrency or blockchain solutions invite both demand of owners of the cryptocurrency/users of the blockchain, and supply of blockchain/cryptocurrency community members who will verify those transactio
Jul 26, 2018 rated it liked it
The book provides a comprehensive overview of the frantic development of the blockchain technology throughout the past 2 to 3 years--the technology that forms the foundation of the much hyped Bitcoin. The authors do a fantastic job of explaining the intricate workings of this seemingly revolutionary technology in simple terms, along with presenting several interesting real-world use cases. In fact, no mathematical formula or arcane jargons are used throughout the book. Of paramount significance ...more
James Klagge
I wanted to learn about blockchain technology--not the nitty-gritty, but the big ideas and the applications and implications. This book served that purpose. There is a lot of repetition, and a lot of conjectural cheer-leading, but I feel like I got a good sense of the big picture. Apart from underlying bit-coin currencies, which was not really my interest, it offers a method for distributed (rather than centralized) and trustworthy systems--such as property registration, identity confirmation, v ...more
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A native of Perth, Western Australia,
Michael Casey is writer and researcher in the fields of economics, finance, and digital technology and culture. He is currently Senior Advisor for the Digital Currency Initiative at MIT's renowned Media Lab, while also providing consulting services and speaking globally on the evolving digital governance of the global economy. Casey was previously a journalists

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