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