LESETIPPS

On the next phase of digitalization, the opportunities offered by blockchain technology, and the power of mathematics

TEXTNIELS BOEING

The Age of Machines

Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson, economists at the MIT Sloan School of Management, foresee a technological tsunami more dramatic than the rise of the Internet. Unleashed by the breakthrough in machine learning, the development of global platforms such as Amazon, and the global crowd of users able to access a huge fund of information at a moment’s notice, it will revolutionize the way we do business. Ingenuity, great products, and an expert team will no longer suffice to guarantee commercial success. McAfee and Brynjolfsson already caused a stir in 2012 with Race against the Machine. Now they are plotting the next chapter in the story of digitalization.

Andrew McAfee & Erik Brynjolfsson
Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future

W. W. Norton & Company, 2017

The Age of Trust

Everyone’s talking about bitcoin, but the technology behind it is much more revolutionary. For Michael Casey and Paul Vigna, blockchain technology marks a break in economic history. That’s because it replaces an accounting practice — double-entry bookkeeping — that had shored up faith in financial transactions for over 500 years — until, that is, the financial crash of 2008 revealed that the banks had been fiddling their books. In the age of globalization, Casey and Vigna argue, blockchain could help restore this trust — and, in the process, make diverse things like land registries, supply chains, and copyright more transparent and secure. The Truth Machine offers a pleasingly reflective view of one of the most important new technologies of our time.

Michael Casey & Paul Vigna
The Truth Machine. The Blockchain and the Future of Everything

St. Martin’s Press, 2018

The Age of Equations

Our picture of the universe is like a huge jigsaw puzzle. Over the past 300 years, scientists have found an impressive number of pieces and inserted them in the right places. Many of these pieces bear the names of brilliant physicists. Less well known is how mathematics has contributed to determining just where these pieces fit. “Mathematics is a very powerful inference engine,” writes the British mathematician Ian Stewart, a master in works of popular science. He shows how the investigation of the stars gave rise to powerful mathematical tools such as differential calculus, and how mathematicians can use equations to discover things that remain invisible to a telescope, such as black holes and gravitational superhighways. Not an easy read, but very stimulating.

Ian Stewart
Calculating the Cosmos

Basic Books, 2016

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