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Category Archives: Recommended Books

Book review: Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code

Joseph Savirimuthu, “Book review: Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code”, (2019) 16:1 SCRIPTed 95 https://script-ed.org/?p=3748 DOI: 10.2966/scrip.160119.95. Download PDF

“Blockchains, distributed ledger technologies, bitcoins and peer-to-peer networks have reignited old debates and arguments about the implications of decentralisation for social, economic and political ordering. Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code sets out to map the landscape of this technology that enables its readers to assess the opportunities and regulatory challenges. The coverage is impressive, well-researched and key issues are examined and analysed with rigor and clarity. This book will appeal to technology and innovation scholars, policymakers and lawyers. It is also likely to be suitable for academic and policy programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level. The book is well-structured with an overriding goal – to define and explain the rationale and goals of the law in seeking to regulate the technology. As observers of the innovation opportunities and challenges will attest, the quest to formulate optimal strategies is complex and far from straightforward. It is a point that needs to be kept in mind that Blockchain and the Law will not resolve ongoing arguments about the mismatch between technological innovation and the ability of law to keep pace. The book is structured with five Parts, beginning with an account of the characteristics of blockchain technology (Part 1) before proceeding to examine financial and contractual instruments (Part 2), security standards and protocols (Part 3), the institutional and organizational infrastructure (Part 4) and governance (Part 5). Whether the regulatory responses to blockchains will culminate in a lex cryptographica is merely a springboard for an examination of how the problems of associated with the automated and decentralised architecture are to be mitigated. For those with long memories of peer-to-peer file sharing services in the 1990s and 2000, one may need to be more circumspect about whether the distinctive decentralised software infrastructure upon which blockchain applications sit, will succeed in creating “order without law” (p. 5).

The War For Kindness

Building Empathy In A Fractured World – “This book reviews the science of human kindness and empathy, drawing largely from psychological research.  In recent years, high-profile findings in this field (and others) have proven to be less robust than we once thought.  Psychologists have responded by making sure we are as transparent as possible about… Continue Reading

Commentary – Making Impeachment Matter

The Republic: “A national poll in September, one of the first taken after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives would initiate a formal impeachment inquiry regarding the president’s dealings with Ukraine, turned up a plurality of respondents already backing Trump’s impeachment. The spread of opinion was as follows: 42 percent of Americans… Continue Reading

The World on Two Wheels

Overlooked No More: Annie Londonderry, Who Traveled the World by Bicycle – She cycled away from her Boston home and into stardom, leaving a husband and three small children for a journey that came to symbolize women’s independence. Intrigued by what little he knew of his great-grandfather’s sister, Peter Zheutlin, a journalist, decided to write… Continue Reading

How Legal Professionals Must Lead in the Age of Machines

Law Technology Today – “…Today, legal professionals, of course, spend much of their day interacting with computers. A desktop or laptop computer is the hearth of our workspace, where we do simple tasks like email, as well as complex tasks like using sophisticated systems to analyze data collections. We use our mobile phones, tablets, and ever-present… Continue Reading

The Internet’s Invisible Cleanup Crew

Jacobin – Review of Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media, by Sarah T. Roberts (Yale University Press, 2019). “Commercial content moderation, or CCM, describes one of the dirtier jobs on the corporate internet: reviewing and removing violent, racist, and disturbing content posted to social media sites like Facebook and YouTube… Continue Reading

The Underworld of Online Content Moderation

The New Yorker interview – The Underworld of Online Content Moderation:  “More than a hundred thousand people work as online content moderators, viewing and evaluating the most violent, disturbing, and exploitative content on social media. In a new book, “Behind the Screen,” Sarah T. Roberts, a professor of information studies at U.C.L.A., describes how this work… Continue Reading

Jared Diamond: There’s a 49 Percent Chance the World As We Know It Will End by 2050

New York Magazine – Intelligencer: “Jared Diamond’s new book, Upheaval, addresses itself to a world very obviously in crisis, and tries to lift some lessons for what do about it from the distant past. In that way, it’s not so different from all the other books that have made the UCLA geographer a sort of… Continue Reading

Are Robots Competing for Your Job?

The New Yorker – Are Robots Competing for Your Job? Probably, but don’t count yourself out. [For decades the internet heralded the demise of librarians – now it is AI perhaps – but we will still think – not!] “..The old robots were blue-collar workers, burly and clunky, the machines that rusted the Rust Belt.… Continue Reading

Shoshana Zuboff on the Age of Surveillance Capitalism

The Intercept: “…An unavoidable takeaway of “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” is, essentially, that everything is even worse than you thought. Even if you’ve followed the news items and historical trends that gird Zuboff’s analysis, her telling takes what look like privacy overreaches and data blunders, and recasts them as the intentional movements of a… Continue Reading

Thieves of Experience: How Google and Facebook Corrupted Capitalism

Los Angeles Review of Books – Nicholas Carr’s review of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism – The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power By Shoshana Zuboff To the Googles and Facebooks of the world, we are neither the customer nor the product. We are the source of what Silicon Valley… Continue Reading

Technology has over-saturated us

Axios: “For millennia, technology, in terms of its big-picture impact, was, well, meh. Look at the straight line in the chart — that includes every major invention since the year 1 AD, including the printing press. Then James Watt triggered the Industrial Revolution by reinventing the steam engine, and before you knew it we all… Continue Reading