The Truth Machine
The Blockchain and the Future of Everything
Our 21st century digital society suffers from a trust deficit, and our outdated 20th century institutions are unable to fix it, says MIT Media Lab advisor Michael Casey. The co-author of The Truth Machine and The Age of Cryptocurrency, the two leading books on the sweeping potential of blockchain technology, believes this breakdown contributes to everything from social media-fueled political dysfunction to inaction over the “end of work” and climate change. Casey’s solution is shaped by the decentralizing ideas of the blockchain movement: an incentives-driven mechanism for verifying information that, if designed in humanity’s interests, will help us reclaim agency over our data and creative output, the most important assets of our era. This, he argues, is how we’ll restore trust in each other.
“[Vigna and Casey] have produced more than a bitcoin 101: their [book] is a smarter, more holistic take on not just bitcoin, but the potential of all digital currencies to change the way we send each other money.”— Fortune
An expert on digital media, financial innovation and global economics, Casey argues that society’s centrally managed gatekeepers – governments, journalists and corporations – are, in their current form, incapable of imposing order on the chaos of our decentralized, online existence. His talks present an alternative in which software and algorithms, rather than being a threat to our way of life, can supplement and improve these aging, analog institutions. Along the way, he helps people and businesses conceive of new models for economic success that bypass data-controlling middlemen and give them access to markets and audiences on their own terms. It’s a hopeful vision of “digital citizenship” that emphasizes transparency, objectivity and integrity so that human beings can thrive in what should be a golden age of creativity and collaborative innovation.
“[Casey has] written a reported explainer that patiently documents bitcoin’s rise, acknowledges its flaws and highlights its promise. Smart and conscientious, The Age of Cryptocurrency is the most thorough and readable account of the short life of this controversial currency.”— The Washington Post
A globetrotter who was born in Australia and has lived and worked on five continents, Casey has published five acclaimed books in ten years. These include, with Paul Vigna, The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money are Challenging the Global Economic Order, now in 15 languages, and its sequel, The Truth Machine: The Blockchain and the Future of Everything. He also wrote The Social Organism: A Radical Understanding of Social Media to Transform Your Business and Life (with social media entrepreneur Oliver Luckett), The Unfair Trade: How Our Broken Financial System Destroys the Middle Class and Che’s Afterlife: The Legacy of an Image.
Casey is a Senior Advisor to the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab and Senior Lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He’s also Chairman of the Advisory Board at CoinDesk and CEO and founder of Streambed Media, a next-generation video company focused on technology and society. He spent more than two decades as a journalist, including 18 years with The Wall Street Journal, where he was a senior columnist covering global finance and economics. In addition to hundreds of bylines at WSJ, Casey has written for The Harvard Business Review, Foreign Affairs, The Washington Post, MIT Technology Review, WIRED, and many other publications.
The world’s largest banks are larger than ever. In a digital era, credit fraud is ever present. Our quaint notions of privacy are ever-more perilous. And to help, we can’t look to so-called ‘legacy’ systems: they’re ill equipped to keep the economy stable or our lives simple. So we look to the blockchain, argues Michael Casey: a public, common good; a means to transfigure major parts of the economy with an operating system that is, in a word, revolutionary; and a decentralized trust architecture to manage the decentralized economy we’re building. In this keynote, based on his latest book The Truth Machine (the sequel to The Age of Cryptocurrency), Casey unveils the disruptive potential of blockchain for a wide range of industries (shipping, legal, tech, finance, security, and beyond). Essentially, blockchain offers more trust, and more control: to personal actors worried about data, identity, or assets; to those excluded by the unfair distributions of globalism; and to society itself, long in need of a restoration of faith in its capacity to order, manage, and plan. It’s not without its challenges, of course—and Casey is sure to discuss the threats to employment, public interest, and social cohesion that are coming. But with rich, fascinating examples, he champions the need for this utterly transparent, digital, radical model to pass over and replace broken and unreliable institutions and their self-serving middlemen. This is about empowerment, Casey says: a way to move humanity forward into a world of decentralized, more reliable technology.
Bitcoin became a buzzword overnight. It pops up in headlines and fuels endless media debate. Yet it seems few people truly understand what it is. In this economics keynote, blockchain speaker Michael Casey delivers the definitive answer to the question: Why should anyone care about bitcoin? The “blockchain” technology behind cryptocurrencies holds the promise of a financial system without middlemen—a change that’s 500 years in the making. It puts that system in the control of the people who use it and safeguards them from a 2008-type crash. Much more than a new digital form of currency, this technology could integrate billions of hitherto excluded people into the global economy, restore individuals’ control over their private data and identities, and change the way organizations and business relationships are governed.
At the corporate, academic, and government levels, well-informed managers and officials are starting to realize that there all sorts of disruptive applications for this technology, with big implications for the broader economy. When coupled with mobile money apps, Big Data-driven banking services, decentralized e-marketplaces, and countless fintech innovations aimed at breaking big banks’ dominance, the blockchain’s core concept of a distributed ledger of information could reinvent the economy as we know it. In such a system, Casey argues, where risk is parceled out across thousands of computers rather than dangerously centralized in the databases of New York banks, trillions of dollars in middleman fees could be saved, billions of “unbanked” could be included into the global economy, and money could move as freely around the world as information now does. The potential savings from this disruptive technology are so big that the World Economic Forum predicts that as much as 10 percent of world GDP will be transacted over it by 2025.
Casey is an economics speaker with lucidity and verve: he makes this unfamiliar but important topic accessible, and teaches us what we need to know to be ready for this big shift.
Today, we have far less control over the flow, distribution, or quantity of information than ever before. And social media—the most transformative change to communications since the Gutenberg bible—requires a radically new framework to fully understand it.
Enter Michael Casey. In his new book The Social Organism, he argues that social media functions much like a living organism, even obeying seven rules of biological life—it mirrors cellular structure, possesses metabolism and homeostasis, grows toward complexity, reproduces, and adapts and evolves. And, Casey argues, this metaphoric framework carries a wide array of practical applications for businesses, organizations, and individuals alike.
In this keynote, Casey celebrates the organic spread of information, and offers eye-opening insights into how you can embrace, rather than resist, the zeitgeist. It means moving to an open, decentralized structure, allowing your brand to be adapted and replicated by the public. It means creating worlds other people actually want to build upon. And it means creating the right environment and tools for your customers to become your best ambassadors—getting into people’s heads (and hearts) like never before. With reference to massive brands, memes, online humor, and the new celebrities of the YouTube era, Casey offers a invigorating new way of making sense of the digital world for business leaders, marketers, and everyone else online.