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AFINANCIAL TIMESBOOK OF THE MONTH FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL:"Nothing Mr. Gilder says or writes is ever delivered at anything less than the fullest philosophical decibel...Mr. Gilder sounds less like a tech guru than a poet, and his words tumble out in a romantic cascade." “Google’s algorithms assume the world’s future is nothing more than the next moment in a random A FINANCIAL TIMES BOOK OF THE MONTH  FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: "Nothing Mr. Gilder says or writes is ever delivered at anything less than the fullest philosophical decibel... Mr. Gilder sounds less like a tech guru than a poet, and his words tumble out in a romantic cascade." “Google’s algorithms assume the world’s future is nothing more than the next moment in a random process. George Gilder shows how deep this assumption goes, what motivates people to make it, and why it’s wrong: the future depends on human action.” — Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and Palantir Technologies and author of Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future The Age of Google, built on big data and machine intelligence, has been an awesome era. But it’s coming to an end. In Life after Google, George Gilder—the peerless visionary of technology and culture—explains why Silicon Valley is suffering a nervous breakdown and what to expect as the post-Google age dawns. Google’s astonishing ability to “search and sort” attracts the entire world to its search engine and countless other goodies—videos, maps, email, calendars….And everything it offers is free, or so it seems. Instead of paying directly, users submit to advertising. The system of “aggregate and advertise” works—for a while—if you control an empire of data centers, but a market without prices strangles entrepreneurship and turns the Internet into a wasteland of ads. The crisis is not just economic. Even as advances in artificial intelligence induce delusions of omnipotence and transcendence, Silicon Valley has pretty much given up on security. The Internet firewalls supposedly protecting all those passwords and personal information have proved hopelessly permeable. The crisis cannot be solved within the current computer and network architecture. The future lies with the “cryptocosm”—the new architecture of the blockchain and its derivatives. Enabling cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether, NEO and Hashgraph, it will provide the Internet a secure global payments system, ending the aggregate-and-advertise Age of Google. Silicon Valley, long dominated by a few giants, faces a “great unbundling,” which will disperse computer power and commerce and transform the economy and the Internet. Life after Google is almost here.   For fans of "Wealth and Poverty," "Knowledge and Power," and "The Scandal of Money." 


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AFINANCIAL TIMESBOOK OF THE MONTH FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL:"Nothing Mr. Gilder says or writes is ever delivered at anything less than the fullest philosophical decibel...Mr. Gilder sounds less like a tech guru than a poet, and his words tumble out in a romantic cascade." “Google’s algorithms assume the world’s future is nothing more than the next moment in a random A FINANCIAL TIMES BOOK OF THE MONTH  FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: "Nothing Mr. Gilder says or writes is ever delivered at anything less than the fullest philosophical decibel... Mr. Gilder sounds less like a tech guru than a poet, and his words tumble out in a romantic cascade." “Google’s algorithms assume the world’s future is nothing more than the next moment in a random process. George Gilder shows how deep this assumption goes, what motivates people to make it, and why it’s wrong: the future depends on human action.” — Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and Palantir Technologies and author of Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future The Age of Google, built on big data and machine intelligence, has been an awesome era. But it’s coming to an end. In Life after Google, George Gilder—the peerless visionary of technology and culture—explains why Silicon Valley is suffering a nervous breakdown and what to expect as the post-Google age dawns. Google’s astonishing ability to “search and sort” attracts the entire world to its search engine and countless other goodies—videos, maps, email, calendars….And everything it offers is free, or so it seems. Instead of paying directly, users submit to advertising. The system of “aggregate and advertise” works—for a while—if you control an empire of data centers, but a market without prices strangles entrepreneurship and turns the Internet into a wasteland of ads. The crisis is not just economic. Even as advances in artificial intelligence induce delusions of omnipotence and transcendence, Silicon Valley has pretty much given up on security. The Internet firewalls supposedly protecting all those passwords and personal information have proved hopelessly permeable. The crisis cannot be solved within the current computer and network architecture. The future lies with the “cryptocosm”—the new architecture of the blockchain and its derivatives. Enabling cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether, NEO and Hashgraph, it will provide the Internet a secure global payments system, ending the aggregate-and-advertise Age of Google. Silicon Valley, long dominated by a few giants, faces a “great unbundling,” which will disperse computer power and commerce and transform the economy and the Internet. Life after Google is almost here.   For fans of "Wealth and Poverty," "Knowledge and Power," and "The Scandal of Money." 

30 review for Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Gary Beauregard Bottomley

    I’ve often pondered, ‘do libertarians masturbate with an invisible hand’, now from this book I know they most likely do since the author seems to appeal to the libertarian’s mystical anarchical bullshit of market perfection through magic and the author twice invoked the spirit of Maury Rothbard and his crypto invisible anarchical perfect state (look him up, if the name isn’t familiar) and other substance free libertarian juvenile invisible hand thinking as if they had something useful to say I’ve often pondered, ‘do libertarians masturbate with an invisible hand’, now from this book I know they most likely do since the author seems to appeal to the libertarian’s mystical anarchical bullshit of market perfection through magic and the author twice invoked the spirit of Maury Rothbard and his crypto invisible anarchical perfect state (look him up, if the name isn’t familiar) and other substance free libertarian juvenile invisible hand thinking as if they had something useful to say beyond the fiction of the invisible mystical hand being real and adequate for all purposes including apparently the answer to the question that I’ve often pondered. Fan boys of the invisible hand of perfection will eat this book up. I don’t think I would have bothered to write a review or criticize this book if he hadn’t pissed me off by bad mouthing Markov Processes. I’ve got a few hot button issues in life and criticizing Markov Processes just happens to be on that short list. Geez o Pete, Gilder needs to get over his dislike of their memory less nature and thinks that all the problems in the world can be better solved by block chains and Bitcoin’s imaginary creations acting as better than gold because they require all previous states not just the most recent state in order to exist as Markov Chains do. Let me see now, he thinks because Google gives away their product that makes it fatal for them, and since they solved the foreign language translation problem with Markov chains and machine recursive learning that it is not enough; and since DeepMind beat Go with Markov chains and tables of previous games but with no deep understanding of the program’s intentionality that means it lacks meaning; and that they are therefore doomed in the soon to be world since Google only cares about the most previous state of the systems under consideration. Sometimes, all one needs to solve a problem is the current variance-covariance matrix as with Markov Chains and the complete previous history of the process is not necessary as with block chains and the solution itself is just good enough for the problem at hand. Gilder has a belief that materialism is not enough and a mystical meaning about the meaning (a meta-meaning) is necessary in order to process and understand the world correctly. As an example, and weirdly, in the book he seemed to have tied Shannon’s information theory to entropy to evolution on earth and how the second law of thermodynamics argued against life and tried to appeal obliquely to some kind of mystical bullshit as connective filler. (It all happened so fast and I did not understand it at the time when he said it, but it came together by the time I finished this book. Meaning for the process beyond the process is his driving standard and would be why he doesn’t like Markov Chains as a standard). He didn’t like Max Tegmark’s book ‘Life 3.0’. I must admit I didn’t either. I didn’t like it because it offered nothing that was new to me not because it hypothesizes super AI. I think it’s safe to say that Gilder did not like the book because it hypothesizes super AI not because it was unoriginal. I bet the author repeated Paul Krugman’s belief that ‘Bitcoin is evil’ seven or more times in this book. So what! What do I care if somebody calls it evil. Technically things in themselves aren’t evil, but I think I can call people such as this author and those he quote who think Bitcoin is as good as or better than gold stupid. Moreover when it comes to evil (or sin) I’ll just quote John Steinbeck, ‘there is no virtue, there is no sin, there just people doing things’. Even, if I am wrong, and if Bitcoin turns out to be as good as sliced bread it doesn’t mean Google will disappear. The author requires meaning and purpose for his supreme standard. For example, he thought Renaissance Hedge Fund’s reason for being was meaningless since they did not posses self awareness for their processes and therefore would not be able to improve the world. I know nothing about that hedge fund, but I do know that is not a standard for a hedge fund. It’s too bad that this author went into full pseudo-Libertarian gobbledygook land. He really did a fine job at tying Godel’s Incompleteness with Turing complete systems and universal computers, and explained why block chains matter and Shannon’s Information Theory is important and so on. Facebook, Google, and Amazon are in for a heap of change, but I don’t think the reasons outlined in this book will be the reasons why. The world is not static and all self-aware entities dynamically will process the changes happening within their environment, and if they survive, they will change appropriately with the times.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Doug Sleeter

    If you want to know more about #Blockchain, #DigitalCurrency, #BigData, #Security, #Economics, #CryptoCurrency, #Cryptography, #Bitcoin, #Ethereum, and what's broken about today's Internet, you have to read this book. Many people are "all in" with Big Data, Machine Learning, and AI. But unless we fix the problems with #BigBadData, all those dreams cannot come true. Gilder very clearly describes what's wrong with nearly every technology built in the computer age. They left security out of the If you want to know more about #Blockchain, #DigitalCurrency, #BigData, #Security, #Economics, #CryptoCurrency, #Cryptography, #Bitcoin, #Ethereum, and what's broken about today's Internet, you have to read this book. Many people are "all in" with Big Data, Machine Learning, and AI. But unless we fix the problems with #BigBadData, all those dreams cannot come true. Gilder very clearly describes what's wrong with nearly every technology built in the computer age. They left security out of the architecture, and now everyone's trying to bolt on security solutions to existing tech. It just can't work. This book is so compelling, you have to stop everything you're doing and sit down and read it!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Review of the audiobook narrated by Eric Michael Summerer. There are some interesting topics covered, but the arguments Mr. Gilder is attempting to make are more often than not muddled by an over-explaining of the technical details (in a way where he is showing off his knowledge more than concisely summarizing for the reader) and a wandering thread of thought that constantly moves between topics before any clear conclusion has been made. The scattered anecdotes add nothing to the narrative and Review of the audiobook narrated by Eric Michael Summerer. There are some interesting topics covered, but the arguments Mr. Gilder is attempting to make are more often than not muddled by an over-explaining of the technical details (in a way where he is showing off his knowledge more than concisely summarizing for the reader) and a wandering thread of thought that constantly moves between topics before any clear conclusion has been made. The scattered anecdotes add nothing to the narrative and only serve to illustrate how well traveled and connected he is. I was hoping to gain some insight into the future of the tech industry, but instead all I found was a self-indulgent collection of ramblings by a very smart man. I thought that Eric Michael Summerer did a great job with the narration. He has a professional and clear delivery, which was the perfect fit for the content. Final verdict: 2 star story, 5 star narration, 2 stars overall

  4. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    Just fantastic.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jason X

    I did not enjoy reading this overly dense, overly technical, and overly name dropping screed against Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. I'm no fanboy of these companies and the walled gardens they create, but they do make useful products, albeit with their own imperfections. The book was okay, I guess it was full of wisdom and knowledge (and opinions), mostly from a libertarian / gold standard understanding of the world. I'm not really sure because most of it was over my head. I felt like I I did not enjoy reading this overly dense, overly technical, and overly name dropping screed against Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. I'm no fanboy of these companies and the walled gardens they create, but they do make useful products, albeit with their own imperfections. The book was okay, I guess it was full of wisdom and knowledge (and opinions), mostly from a libertarian / gold standard understanding of the world. I'm not really sure because most of it was over my head. I felt like I needed a PhD in computer engineering and history and economics to understand it. Here is the theme (p.260) in 2 confounding sentences: "The Google era is coming to an end because Google tries to cheat the constraints of economic scarcity and security by making its goods and services free. Google's Free World is a way of brazenly defying the centrality of time in economics and reaching beyond the wallets of its customers to seize their time." I'm old enough to have seen giants fall - IBM for example - so Gilder's prediction of the end of these companies, or at least the walled garden silo model, may not be as far fetched as it may seem today. I can't say if blockchain technology is going to be the downfall or not. I really don't know enough to have an opinion, and this book does not do a good enough job explaining it. I do know that I would have enjoyed a book on this topic more for beginners, and definately one written by a more clear communicator.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I liked this book but there was much about it I didn't understand. I'll have to go back to it later, after I've learned a bit more and can better understand it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Peterson

    12 April 2019 - Very cool book. I finished this about two weeks ago and have been mulling over how to review it since. On the one hand, I love most of the book passionately. So many great insights. Such wonderful explanations of complex new technologies in terms that most any intelligent layman can understand - classic George Gilder! Gripping backgrounds on key movers and shakers in so many related fields that are becoming more important every day. Connections between technologies, individuals, 12 April 2019 - Very cool book. I finished this about two weeks ago and have been mulling over how to review it since. On the one hand, I love most of the book passionately. So many great insights. Such wonderful explanations of complex new technologies in terms that most any intelligent layman can understand - classic George Gilder! Gripping backgrounds on key movers and shakers in so many related fields that are becoming more important every day. Connections between technologies, individuals, news issues and government policies that I had not considered before, that could be crucial for a much better or much worse world. On the other hand, I saw some flaws in his explanations of what money is or means. Some technology explanations just did not quite ring true and a few experts in those areas I consulted were a bit skeptical if he got them right. There were some other problems too... but they all seem pretty minor, compared to the positives and mind expanding scope, energy and positiveness of the overall book. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in: - figuring out a better future world - government policies actually already and potentially screwing things up - what this "net neutrality" talk and policies are really about - should we fear Google, love them or a mix? - cryptocurrencies - privacy on the internet I remember reading and being greatly influenced by Gilder's amazing book Microcosm about 30 years ago. He wrote the most compelling story of the import of Moore's Law, the chip business, science, engineering, marketing, and affects on society one could possibly tell. The book steeled my wife and my resolve to invest in Intel and Microsoft at that semi-early stage, and wow, was that a winning hand for over 10 years financially, and society-wise still to this day and beyond. I believe that this book builds on some of Gilder's original insights there, and expands on the new technologies of cryptography and cryptocurrencies, communications, fibre optics, wireless and other related technologies so important for more progress toward a better world. to be continued.... 3 May 2019 - With today's Facebook announcement on their upcoming cryptocurrency, it looks like Gilder is definitely on the right track: https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook... 8 Aug. 2019 - Wow - what a firestorm erupted and has continued with the Facebook cryptocurrency proposal! Makes this book all the more important to read, ponder and consider the import.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ronald J.

    Another masterpiece from George Gilder that will make you think about the world differently. I was honored to get a copy of this book from George before it was published, and couldn't put it down. We will interview George Gilder on The Soul of Enterprise: Business in the Knowledge Economy on 8/31/18 to discuss this book (www.thesoulofenterprise.com).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Evin Ashley

    Where do I start? This book is profoundly useful for me both personally and professionally, and I recommend it to anyone currently breathing in 2018 - to get a better grasp of how our "global society" will be structured, both in an economic and governance sense. Admittedly, Gilder had me running high on blockchain idealism, but then I tripped right across the finish line on p. 262 when he described the flaw of blockchain as a potential (replacement) currency for the gold standard. So it's crucial Where do I start? This book is profoundly useful for me both personally and professionally, and I recommend it to anyone currently breathing in 2018 - to get a better grasp of how our "global society" will be structured, both in an economic and governance sense. Admittedly, Gilder had me running high on blockchain idealism, but then I tripped right across the finish line on p. 262 when he described the flaw of blockchain as a potential (replacement) currency for the gold standard. So it's crucial that the reader read this book all the way through - blockchain may not replace currency, but it will certainly change our world. Having said that, I am much more apt to invest in blockchain technology now, as I more clearly understand its inevitable use, primarily in transparent governance. Of course there is a global backlash against this, coming from very powerful institutions (namely, governments and banks, who are invested in big data) who do not want to potentially lose power over society. The rise of blockchain is not incompatible with big data, in fact they will likely evolve together if Google's interest in blockchain technology is any indication. In addition, once blockchain becomes more widespread the average joe will not want to wrap their head around new technology - or even the above-average joe. People love short cuts, no matter how intelligent they are, so why not have a middleman do your blockchain investing and transactions for you? There is plenty of opportunity, as this book illustrates, for humans to become more creative in society if they are freed up by secure transactions - the idea behind blockchain is trust. Until our current institutions have a better grasp on how to get their hands around blockchain, there will be a lot of negative PR and stock market fluctuations over the technology. Hadera is a good contender as a blockchain company which could smoothly transition the current system towards a blockchain-based system. As Gilder puts it, "Making no change to the Internet architecture, it (Hadera) poses relatively little threat to the established order." (p.266) People hate change, so that's why revolutions usually happen; creation arises from destruction. But we may be able to ensure a smoother transition to a new global system if we use both big data and blockchain technology at their full potential. As Gilder warns, "Let us hope that the solutions will come without geopolitical chaos stemming from a series of new financial crises." (p.262) We already see this happening, so hopefully people can actually work together (after all, that's how we made it to the top of the food chain, right?) I also very much enjoyed this book in a philosophical sense - it seems evident that Gilder is a religious or spiritual man, as the idea of human consciousness, a soul, and creativity repeatedly come into play. His beliefs may wander into idealistic territory when he insists a system upholding the creative potential of humanity will inevitably win out. The rise of big data shows that human nature also has a great proclivity for the short term, rather than realizing its full potential over the long term. Our true currency, and what we must value the most, is our relationship to time itself.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Warren Mcpherson

    The core of this book is about zero pricing of Google services corrupting markets across the technology industry. Small players face extremely difficult competition and markets for information and bandwidth have become dramatically distorted. Bitcoin does introduce a reasonable path to micro-payments and thus could make a remarkable impact on society. The writing of this book is weak. The book starts with an angry repetitive rant complaining about passwords and captchas. When the focus shifted to The core of this book is about zero pricing of Google services corrupting markets across the technology industry. Small players face extremely difficult competition and markets for information and bandwidth have become dramatically distorted. Bitcoin does introduce a reasonable path to micro-payments and thus could make a remarkable impact on society. The writing of this book is weak. The book starts with an angry repetitive rant complaining about passwords and captchas. When the focus shifted to core issues the repetition cleared up, but the undercurrent of anger remained and this is not conducive to clarifying complex ideas. Names of smart people and technologies were included in an exercise of proving something but not doing the best job of explaining anything. The technology jargon was mostly used correctly but superficially. There was quite a bit of gossip and information about developing technology projects, including some interesting vignettes. The platitudes seemed out of place at first until you realize that overwrought capitalist morality actually seems to be the main point. Ironically a deeper understanding of business strategy would likely cool that passion considerably. Some people will feel aligned with the author and are likely to feel the book is convincing, others are likely to find the small mistakes reinforce their feeling the author lacks credibility. In the end, I think it would be more useful to treat the topic with a curious disposition. The subject area opens some fascinating possibilities and I look forward to future explorations.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ed Kless

    Gilder once again has changed my thinking. I was always aligned with him that Bitcoin, while the strongest of the cryptocurrencies, has a fundamental flaw in that it is inherently deflationary. However, it might only become so in a century, and by then many of the challenges might be moot or have been worked out. My biggest mind shift came from my understanding of Google's model (and others) which I now see as problematic in the shorter term, say over the next decade. I have investigated using Gilder once again has changed my thinking. I was always aligned with him that Bitcoin, while the strongest of the cryptocurrencies, has a fundamental flaw in that it is inherently deflationary. However, it might only become so in a century, and by then many of the challenges might be moot or have been worked out. My biggest mind shift came from my understanding of Google's model (and others) which I now see as problematic in the shorter term, say over the next decade. I have investigated using Brave as a browser and am actively seeking a replacement for LinkedIn/Facebook. So far Dock.io has the lead but I am not convinced. If you are a technology geek you will love this book. If not, you should still read it, but skim some of the middle chapters as they tend to peppered with way more details than a non-techie would want to know.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ailith Twinning

    This was a depressing read. I'm pretty much convinced Gilder is mentally ill.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Seth

    [Check out my podcast interview with George Gilder: www.closemindedpodcast.com/8] [The full text of this book review is posted at The Close Minded Podcast blog: www.closemindedpodcast.com/book-review/life-after-google-the-fall-of-big-data-and-the-rise-of-the-blockchain-economy-by-george-gilder/] George Gilder is one of my favorite thinkers. He writes coherently and thoughtfully about a rich variety of topics, and a common theme running through much of his thought over the last 30 years is an [Check out my podcast interview with George Gilder: www.closemindedpodcast.com/8] [The full text of this book review is posted at The Close Minded Podcast blog: www.closemindedpodcast.com/book-review/life-after-google-the-fall-of-big-data-and-the-rise-of-the-blockchain-economy-by-george-gilder/] George Gilder is one of my favorite thinkers. He writes coherently and thoughtfully about a rich variety of topics, and a common theme running through much of his thought over the last 30 years is an optimistic “futurism.” He sees important developments in technology and grasps their philosophical underpinnings and implications long before they are even a glimmer in the eyes of us average folk. In the early 90s, for example, Gilder foresaw and wrote about the impending broadband revolution and the smartphone era (there's even evidence to suggest that he directly influenced Steve Jobs and the iPhone). Undergirding his recent writings on technology is the science and philosophy of a concept known as Information Theory. Gilder spends a lot of time teaching the fundamentals of the theory and unpacking its implications in his 2013 book Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is Revolutionizing our World. It also directly informs his subsequent books: The Scandal of Money (2016) and now Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy (2018). Explaining information theory is beyond my scope here, and I certainly do not understand it fully (definitely not enough to write confidently about it). But I'm utterly fascinated by the way it actively informs Gilder's thinking on so many different topics–from his opposition to insider trading laws, to his defense of entrepreneurship as the lifeblood of economic activity, to his framing of government intervention in the interest rate market in terms of time and knowledge, and his full-throated defense of capitalism. His most recent application of information theory touches on Google's ecosystem and its philosophy of humanity, on blockchain and decentralization, on rapid innovative increases in low-power computing capabilities, and on cryptocurrencies. All Your Data Belong to Us Gilder starts Life After Google by utterly demolishing the premises that Google's model is built upon, and describing how dangerous it is to society. To Google, you and I are not the customer; in fact, we are the product. They sell our information to advertisers and also use it to develop and perfect their algorithms. It's all part of their attempt to “organize the world's information.” It's as arrogant as it sounds. Google's approach to collecting our data is ingenious: offer all their products and services for free–Gmail, Drive, Docs, Maps, Voice, Search, News, Books, Photos, YouTube, Assistant, the list goes on. And on. But there are major consequences to this model. For one, there is no market incentive to provide security of your data. After all, you aren't a paying customer, and Google can get away with token efforts at protecting you. To make matters worse, a centralized model means all the important data is in one place–a glorious gift for hackers and data miners. In the early stages of the Internet, data centralization wasn't feasible. Processor speeds and the costs of memory were prohibitive. But Google (and the rest of Silicon Valley) drove the miraculous innovation that brought us exponentially faster, smaller, and cheaper computers. Google's approach to building their server farms to store, organize, and rapidly calculate their “best” answer to whatever we were searching for radically changed the tech industry. This made it possible for them to become efficient repositories of our data. And so they vacuumed it up while we used their “free” services. This model–and the risk involved–is not unique to Google. Just consider all the data breaches in recent years, and the hundreds of millions of users who saw their information exposed. This is a direct result of a centralized model of data storage. You don't really own your data at all these companies–financial institutions, utilities, retail merchants, healthcare providers, insurance companies, personal cloud storage (DropBox, OneDrive, Evernote), etc. Nor do you have any ability to keep it safe. A single successful hack can potentially expose millions of customers' worth of data. And for the most part, we simply get an “oops” from these corporations in response. The solution is not just “better security.” We don't need an even stronger wall around the castle. To change the metaphor, as long as the gold is sitting in the vault, the bank robbers will keep finding ways of getting in. It's an inherent problem and an enormous moral hazard, and it doesn't serve our interests. The entire model is flawed. Gilder proposes an answer to this problem, and we'll get to that. But first we need to discuss the philosophical roots of Google's worldview. The Fatal Flaw In Google's “System of the World” Boil down Google's philosophy and you get a single, fatal flaw: they assume man (and his brain) is like a machine. They assume that eventually artificial intelligence (AI) will surpass us. But they cannot account for human consciousness with only mathematics and algorithms. In Google's worldview, the Singularity is real–the inevitable moment when artificial intelligence overtakes that of man. Citing a handful of German scientists, mathematicians and philosophers from the 19th and 20th centuries, Gilder argues that information theory has definitively disproved this concept, shown it to be inherently self-contradictory. In one sense it's a warmed-over, scientific cousin of classic Marxism. But how can Gilder apply a “Neo-Marxist” label to men who are obvious capitalists? The fundamental claim Marx made was that the Industrial Revolution would create a future where, as Gilder puts it, “the key problem of economics would become not production amid scarcity but redistribution of abundance.” (6) “Marx was typical of intellectuals in imagining that his own epoch was the final stage of human history…. The neo-Marxism of today’s Silicon Valley titans repeats the error of the old Marxists in its belief that today’s technology – not steam and electricity, but silicon micro chips, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, algorithmic biology, and robotics – is the definitive human achievement. The algorithmic eschaton renders obsolete not only human labor but the human mind as well.” (6-7) […] AI is believed to be redefining what it means to be human, much as Darwin’s On the Origin of Species did in its time. While Darwin made man just another animal, a precariously risen ape, Google-Marxism sees men as inferior intellectually to the company’s own algorithmic machines. Life After Google makes the opposing case that what the hyperventilating haruspices Yuval Harari, Nick Bostrom, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Tim Urban, and Elon Musk see as a world-changing AI juggernaut is in fact an industrial regime at the end of its rope. (7) […] “Marxism was historically hyperbolic the first time around, and the new Marxism is delusional today. Is time for a new information architecture for a globally distributed economy. Fortunately, it is on its way.” (9) Google's fundamental philosophical mistake is to assume that AI could ever match real human consciousness. But AI doesn't have true intelligence, and it can never exhibit genuine creativity–only humans can do that. AI is just an algorithm. An incredibly sophisticated algorithm that grows beyond the understanding of its creators, yes, but ultimately it is still simply following rules, however complex. “The problem is not AI itself, which is an impressive technology with much promise for improving human life. What transforms ‘super-AI’ from a technology into a religious cult is the assumption that the human mind is essentially a computer, a material machine.” (99) Here is Gilder's kill-shot against Google's philosophy: “By using their own minds and consciousness to deny the significance of consciousness in minds, they refute themselves.” (100-101) Introducing the Cryptocosm So what is Gilder's cryptocosm and how can it shift the paradigm away from the Google philosophy? Very simply, it's the new frontier being developed by young and emerging protocols of data decentralization, currency, info privacy and security–all built upon peer-to-peer, distributed ledgers known as the blockchain. Imagine a money system where governments are incapable of printing their way out of debt, or of manipulating interest rates to serve the interests of their corporate cronies or advance an imperialist foreign policy. Imagine contracts–business deals, land titles, and more–that are enforced automatically by software protocols that nobody can interfere with. Imagine being able to pay anyone around the world instantly with total security, privacy, freedom, and without usurious transaction fees. Imagine being able to deliver micropayments to content providers on the internet rather than be force-fed ads that are either irrelevant to you or so targeted that they are creepy. Imagine having total control over your data–financial info, transaction history, personal medical records, browsing history, personal preferences and hobbies, etc. In a world of centralized data, you get none of these things. You are the product being marketed, and your information is not protected. But the cryptocosm can deliver us from this model and deliver to us these benefits of security, privacy and control But how? The potential of the cryptocosm is rooted in separate innovations in hardware and software. Although Google played a key role in fostering the hardware innovations that were prerequisites to developing their dominance in centralizing and delivering data, and although their insatiable need for better and faster tech is fueling the next round of advances today, the irony is that those same innovations are fueling parallel advances in cryptographic decentralization based on the blockchain. The computational power available in ever-smaller (and low-power) devices–like smartphones–allows cheaper and faster data processing than ever before, all without the need for centralized servers. For example, facial recognition software is built upon extremely complex algorithms that initially required a stack of servers to accomplish. No longer. A hand-held device can manage it instantly and locally. It's the same story with rendering video. The possibilities are endless. Google is sowing the seeds of its own destruction. Gilder quotes Muneeb Ali of Blockstack: “Google and Facebook captured value in the application layer but then had to invent a lot of protocols and infrastructure to actually scale…Because of the value they created early on, they had the resources. This [architecture] leads to giant moats because big companies had all the data, but also because no one else had the resources to innovate at the protocol/infrastructure layer. This innovation is always needed. The question is who has the incentive to lead the charge. In the post-blockchain world, the model gets flipped and there is direct incentive [for many teams outside the giant companies] to work on the hard problems of protocol and infrastructure innovation. This is a major shift.” (201-202) How else could this all play out in reality? Gilder provides many examples. Brave. Brendan Eich, creator of the most widely used programming language in the world (JavaScript) and former head of Mozilla, has been innovating on his latest venture–the Brave browser. It is built around speed, privacy, ad-blocking (30% of mobile bandwidth is sucked up by ads that virtually nobody clicks on!) and–most excitingly–an anonymous and secure system of rewarding web sites with cryptocurrency rather than trading time for content (watching ads). It's a brilliant approach to reasserting one's autonomy and privacy on the internet, and I hope it takes off. Cryptocurrencies. I believe the future of our money will definitely be a cryptocurrency. The question is, do you want a cryptocurrency that is managed, overseen, controlled, and gate-kept by a government, or one that is decentralized, secure, private, outside the control of a state, and impossible to inflate or manipulate? Gilder writes that the cryptocurrency is building a new trust, ID, and transactions later for the Internet. Better than cash, it offers exchanges that conceal personal information but also allow complete proof of compliance where necessary. Not only can you exchange anonymously, you can prove your record of behavior if a government makes untrue charges or a business makes spurious claims. This combination of security and attestation makes cryptocurrencies a fundamental improvement on existing moneys—a remedy for the monetary turbulence of our time.” (176-177) We are still in the early, wild west stage of cryptocurrencies, with a lot of unknowns. But this is by far the most active and innovative sector of the tech economy right now, with billions being invested. Indeed, crypto startups have all but replaced the standard IPO (this is partly because of draconian regulations imposed after the 2008 financial crisis that effectively killed IPOs and are doing immense damage to entrepreneurship in the United States). Blockchain The blockchain (which cryptocurrencies are built upon but is NOT the same thing) poses some really amazing opportunities for taking back control over your personal and private data in the Internet age, from smart contracts to land titles. Just about anything that requires security and integrity can move to a decentralized model that will ultimately be safer and more reliable for end-users. As Gilder is fond of saying, every failed venture is an opportunity to learn, to gain clarifying signals (information) from the market economy. Here is his pithy analysis: “Many of these [innovative blockchain and crypto] ventures will fail, but together they can emancipate the next generation of the Web from closed silos of captured data. The cryptocosm can mobilize computer power in volumes that dwarf even the data centers of the leviathans. In this cause, the advances in computer science pioneered at Google serve to emancipate the world from Google’s silos.” (210) Life After Google Near the end of the book, Gilder addresses a contemporary hot button political issue–net neutrality regulations. As a free market guy, he naturally opposes the draconian attempts to regulate internet service providers, for reasons both philosophical (it's immoral) and practical (it's counterproductive). As the world's data continues to accumulate, and the ever-growing need for bandwidth and wireless coverage continues, the fate of the cryptocosm depends on the nascent 5G network. The gains in speed and coverage that 5G promises are so vast that they make net neutrality concerns all but obsolete–if the government doesn't smother the spread of the technology through regulation. “In practice, the only factor that makes any serious difference for Internet neutrality is investment in bandwidth. If bandwidth is scarce, it will have to be allocated preferentially, regardless of the laws.” (236) Google finds itself in an ironic catch-22. It supports oppressive regulations because it enables their “free” service model to the masses. But those regulations threaten to kill the very innovations that will allow their heavy data usage to continue into the future. The good news for us is that Google, in attempting to provide for its future, will actually sow the seeds of its own destruction. Gilder gives us many good reasons that life after Google will arrive soon, and what a better future it will be. [Check out my podcast interview with George Gilder: www.closemindedpodcast.com/8]

  14. 5 out of 5

    David

    Not a memorable book. It seems like a self-promotional book for the author's investment fund. I was looking for a good explanation of blockchain technology. It's not here.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kent Winward

    My biggest complaint about this book is the lack of a coherent thesis, i.e. the weird virtual reality digression at the end of the book. Some of the book is a critique of Google and Facebook. Some feels like a libertarian screed. Some goes over monetary theory. Some is fanciful discussions of blockchain technology. Between blockchain technology and AI, things are changing. I knew things were changing in the 90s with the Internet and paperless technology, but I didn't know how, just that things My biggest complaint about this book is the lack of a coherent thesis, i.e. the weird virtual reality digression at the end of the book. Some of the book is a critique of Google and Facebook. Some feels like a libertarian screed. Some goes over monetary theory. Some is fanciful discussions of blockchain technology. Between blockchain technology and AI, things are changing. I knew things were changing in the 90s with the Internet and paperless technology, but I didn't know how, just that things were changing and this is a familiar feeling. Possibly the biggest disruptive factor and I don't know who the company will be (may not even exist yet), but someone is going to figure out how to monetize our attention using blockchain and pay us for our attention. If I want to sell you a book and you meet certain criteria on Goodreads and you agree, I pay you directly in a micro-payment for looking at my ad. It is Google on steroids, not giving us free email, search and document storage, but paying us for our time and securing our data all while we, the end user, makes money. But unlike the title, AI and Big Data will fuel this flip, allowing end users to have their own protected data and to be paid for their attention. Not even close to the books thesis, but what I came up with after reading it and watching technology over the last 50+ years.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dolf van der Haven

    Somehow it is impressive how a 78-year old author an still put together a book that is top-heavy on the latest technology. The result, however, is a hodge-podge of superficial technical descriptions, endless name-dropping and an unsubstantiated premise that the Googles of this world are losing against blockchain applications. The praise of blockchain could have been more easily written. One saving grace is the chapter on Artificial Intelligence, in which Gilder correctly debunks the myth that AI Somehow it is impressive how a 78-year old author an still put together a book that is top-heavy on the latest technology. The result, however, is a hodge-podge of superficial technical descriptions, endless name-dropping and an unsubstantiated premise that the Googles of this world are losing against blockchain applications. The praise of blockchain could have been more easily written. One saving grace is the chapter on Artificial Intelligence, in which Gilder correctly debunks the myth that AI is ever going to take over the world by becoming more intelligent in all aspects than humans. The simple lack of consciousness prevents this.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    The most important things to know about this book are that George Gilder is Libertarian AF and a goldbug. So, I hope you like the gold standard. Also, if you're looking for a technical book best look elsewhere. This is a collection of stories. Having finished the book minutes ago I find its narrative somewhat erratic. I was shocked to find myself in an appendix after a lengthy digression on why Academia and government telecom regulation are bad but the gold standard is good that didn't really go The most important things to know about this book are that George Gilder is Libertarian AF and a goldbug. So, I hope you like the gold standard. Also, if you're looking for a technical book best look elsewhere. This is a collection of stories. Having finished the book minutes ago I find its narrative somewhat erratic. I was shocked to find myself in an appendix after a lengthy digression on why Academia and government telecom regulation are bad but the gold standard is good that didn't really go anywhere or actually finish the line of argument. It's not that pieces of each of those digressions didn't relate to the overall argument in the title of Google bad, Blockchain good but that I expected more than a couple paragraphs tying it all together. Weird choice. As a college drop out and somewhat tech savvy autodidact I found his screeds against academia incomplete and avoided the downsides of those "lifestyle" decisions. The ease of creating an impotent echochamber or stumbling into a cult are perils just as real and dangerous as the slow "establishment" bias of academia itself while often being harder to spot in the real world. All that would demand a lower rating except for three things: 1. Lots of interesting references to theory I haven't read. As a guy who enjoys digging into the foundational papers of Alan Turing and John Von Neumann, I'm grateful that he reminded me that I haven't given enough attention to Claude Shannon. 2. While I don't think Gilder proves any part of his thesis that Google currently dominates a system of the world about to be disrupted by blockchain based entrepreneurship, there are big piles of smaller insights I plan on revisiting the book to collect later. Pointing out Newton's part in establishing the gold standard, the gigflop/watt excesses of datacenters, and the possibilities of using blockchain verified identities to break the current regime of megacorporate walled gardens. Which brings me to... 3. He did get me to reconsider blockchain as a potentially useful technology. That's a star by itself. Creating a decentralizes personal property regime that's cryptographically secure has many interesting possibilities. Will they come true? That's far harder to say. The best thing I can say about this book is I plan on rereading it, which is high praise for a book one disagrees with so many assumptions. The worst thing I can say about it is it's a thin, weakly argued thesis covered over with fantasies and name dropping. He often mentions real issues with blockchain technology and then dismisses them simply because he doesn't respect the people bringing them up. Though, really, who among us hasn't dismissed Paul Krugman in a moment of instinctive self defense? Gilder's clearly got some real rhetorical chops and I enjoyed most of the book. In an arena where many other writers on the topic have gone either all in or knee jerk rejected Bitcoin, I credit him for both continuing to learn at his age and for achieving a kind of nuanced view. That's at least something, even if I feel like the whole thing could have used a few more drafts and maybe a monster editor. I enjoyed it, your mileage may vary.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    With wit and a whimsical, learned approach, Gilder serves up some really techy sauce with his vision of the future. While this book would not be approachable for everyone, I found it riveting and positively encouraging. The ways he is able to communicate information and parse several viewpoints fascinated me, he thoroughly debunked the University system in one chapter, and his prologue and first chapter (as well as chapter 5) are some of the most well written pieces of non-fiction I've read in With wit and a whimsical, learned approach, Gilder serves up some really techy sauce with his vision of the future. While this book would not be approachable for everyone, I found it riveting and positively encouraging. The ways he is able to communicate information and parse several viewpoints fascinated me, he thoroughly debunked the University system in one chapter, and his prologue and first chapter (as well as chapter 5) are some of the most well written pieces of non-fiction I've read in years. I commend this book to anyone who has knowledge of technology (beyond simple computer use) or has access to someone who has said knowledge of technology to translate the hard parts.

  19. 4 out of 5

    M. Nasiri

    Blinkist summary: Google has built a world where individual security comes second to the data storage of a centralized hub. But its dominance now seems to be reaching a tipping point. By working outside of the dominant and traditional systems, the cryptocosm along with the blockchain has laid the foundation for a completely new way of protecting individual data and conducting online business. It can potentially pull apart the cluttered and exhaustive systems of Google while enabling progress and Blinkist summary: Google has built a world where individual security comes second to the data storage of a centralized hub. But its dominance now seems to be reaching a tipping point. By working outside of the dominant and traditional systems, the cryptocosm along with the blockchain has laid the foundation for a completely new way of protecting individual data and conducting online business. It can potentially pull apart the cluttered and exhaustive systems of Google while enabling progress and technological change in many fields.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nick Thune

    This book would've been much more enjoyable if I had a computer science degree, but it was still very helpful in making sense of the current technological landscape. The discussion on bitcoin and it's contemporaries was particularly fascinating.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Raymond Goss

    While the author does explain why Google, banks and other current companies that "own" the storage and tracking of data and money have limitations, I didn't get convinced that bitcoin and blockchain were going to fully resolve the issue. I recommend readers to reference the epilogue and final chapters that describe the definitions and mechanisms of Bitcoin, mining (which is more of the chaining and verification processes that are very expensive - often impacting the community due to increases in While the author does explain why Google, banks and other current companies that "own" the storage and tracking of data and money have limitations, I didn't get convinced that bitcoin and blockchain were going to fully resolve the issue. I recommend readers to reference the epilogue and final chapters that describe the definitions and mechanisms of Bitcoin, mining (which is more of the chaining and verification processes that are very expensive - often impacting the community due to increases in electricity costs) and the failure of solutions early on before the middle of the book (or before deciding to stop reading the material). From a historical perspective, I like the book, but the author didn't go far enough in demonstrating that the blockchain solutions out there today will provide a winning solution. He does point out that Bitcoin has flaws and so do other cryptocurrencies, requiring either occasional hacks, optimization on the mining tools, or resulting in inevitable failures. The book does not provide enough technical details to answer technical questions that I have. It is not geared toward programmers. It is really a non-technical overview of the players and problems that ongoing in the new Blockchain world.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Omar Farhat

    This book is not made for tech people. The book is a collection of stories holding arguments against the existing architecture of the internet. The book provides little to no analysis about the new architecture and whether or not it's possible to use it with the existing class of internet applications. It tries hard to convince you into joining the blockchain flamboyant group without actually understanding what blockchain is.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Josh Hamon

    This book offers a really interesting look at the history of the internet as a technology, money as a technology and how blockchain will affect the future. This is not a book about how you should be buying bitcoin right now. It's from a very libertarian point of view (so he makes a case for how net neutrality is a bad thing but doesn't really answer the objection about speed lanes). A few fun tidbits: The original internet wasn't built to be secure, but it wasn't a big deal because you couldn't This book offers a really interesting look at the history of the internet as a technology, money as a technology and how blockchain will affect the future. This is not a book about how you should be buying bitcoin right now. It's from a very libertarian point of view (so he makes a case for how net neutrality is a bad thing but doesn't really answer the objection about speed lanes). A few fun tidbits: The original internet wasn't built to be secure, but it wasn't a big deal because you couldn't buy anything. Bitcoin won't replace money because it has a built-in coin limit, but another blockchain might Money (whether paper, coin, backed by gold or not) is a technology, I rarely think about that. Minor con: It's a deep book, and I find that heavy books via audio can be hard to get through unless you are really focused when you are listening.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alexandru

    A dense (but short) book describing the state of the internet and technology today and what the blockchain technology brings new to the picture. (no fluff) It goes through pros and cons from multiple angles, without diving too deep into any. I personally enjoyed the parallels between physics/nature and technology/information. Fair warning: This is just a quick read to get you introduced to multiple related topics, some of which you would have not even thought that they are connected, like: A dense (but short) book describing the state of the internet and technology today and what the blockchain technology brings new to the picture. (no fluff) It goes through pros and cons from multiple angles, without diving too deep into any. I personally enjoyed the parallels between physics/nature and technology/information. Fair warning: This is just a quick read to get you introduced to multiple related topics, some of which you would have not even thought that they are connected, like: education, regulation, security, scalability and law of physics. It does not answer all the questions, and I don't think the author intended to do so.

  25. 5 out of 5

    JoAnna Parker

    The author seems to think he is a poet. It's weird. He will talk about the history of Google and Ethereum which is fascinating, but he keeps making these very out of place statements that would be more at home in a book of poetry...or better yet not said. I loved how informative it is but having to sit through the flowery language to get there was tough. It made the book come across as disingenuous. It's so bad I can't recommend it to people without the disclaimer. That said, once I decided to The author seems to think he is a poet. It's weird. He will talk about the history of Google and Ethereum which is fascinating, but he keeps making these very out of place statements that would be more at home in a book of poetry...or better yet not said. I loved how informative it is but having to sit through the flowery language to get there was tough. It made the book come across as disingenuous. It's so bad I can't recommend it to people without the disclaimer. That said, once I decided to ignore it, I did finish the book-- which says a lot about the content.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elia Ekanindita

    George Gilder’s position on blockchains or the cryptocosm as he calls it, I still find dubious, but he did quote powerful objections to the paradigm, which means he ably demonstrated willingness to pursue both sides of the story. The most indelible learning from this book for me is how the history of computer science and information theory ties with the mind-boggling frontiers of technology, and how powerful having a operational mental model, or in Gilder’s words, system of the world, is.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carol Switzer

    An interesting view of the tech world describing the way things have advanced and the interconnectedness of many players. It was a relief to hear the author describe coherently how our current situation is untenable and will not be the future. Also nice to hear how many exciting developments young people are making. It sounds like nothing less than a revolution that will change the way we use technology. I have to admit, I still don’t fully understand blockchain; may have to get another book for An interesting view of the tech world describing the way things have advanced and the interconnectedness of many players. It was a relief to hear the author describe coherently how our current situation is untenable and will not be the future. Also nice to hear how many exciting developments young people are making. It sounds like nothing less than a revolution that will change the way we use technology. I have to admit, I still don’t fully understand blockchain; may have to get another book for that!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Goertzen

    only understood 40% of it, but it opened my mind to how technology is being used. It affirmed and solidified my skepticism of big tech and google, but George was not able to convince me of the need for cryptocurrency.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tom Walsh

    Sorry with this work I have to admit I bit off more than I can chew. I have read Gilder for years and found him to be a reliable guide to the ever-changing world of Digital Technology but here he makes a quantum leap (pun intended) into the world of Markov chains and Virtual Reality. I will have to go back and read it again with notebook in hand to try to keep up. I think he knows what he’s talking about but I didn’t. Try it if you like a challenge. No rating yet.

  30. 5 out of 5

    David Bruyn

    From the one who predicted the end of network TV monopolies, a prescient book predicting how blockchain must necessarily undo the Google/ Facebook monopolies.

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