January 2012

Reuben Grinberg on the legality of Bitcoin

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Reuben Grinberg, a recent Yale Law School graduate now in private practice in New York City, discusses his paper, published in the Hastings Science & Technology Law Journal entitled, Bitcoin: An Innovative Alternative Digital Currency. Grinberg first gives a brief overview of Bitcoin, the decentralized, digital currency. According to Grinberg, Bitcoin can maintain sustainability, even though it is not backed by an institution or commodity, but it must overcome several hurdles. Grinberg then discusses the potential security problems and legal issues Bitcoin faces. He also describes some of the unique qualities of Bitcoin, including the ability to conduct transactions anonymously. Grinberg ends the discussion with his thoughts on what Bitcoin could potentially become.

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Surprisingly Free’s 100th Episode

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This is the 100th episode of Surprisingly Free! One hundred episodes is quite a milestone, and we thought we’d celebrate it with a selection of some of the best clips from our last 99 shows, featuring some incredible thinkers and doers at the intersection of technology, policy and economics. You’ll hear clips on Wikileaks, criminal hacking, censorship, online porn, and robotics, just to name a few topics. We hope you enjoy this episode and continue to listen for the next 100 episodes!

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Michael Weinberg on 3D printing

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Michael Weinberg, staff attorney with Public Knowledge, discusses his white paper entitled, It Will Be Awesome If They Don’t Screw This Up: 3D Printing, Intellectual Property, and the Fight Over the Next Great Disruptive Technology. The discussion begins with Weinberg describing 3D printing: the process of printing three dimensional objects layer-by-layer from a digital file on a computer. According to Weinberg the design method used for printing includes programs like AutoCad and 3D scanners that can scan existing objects, making it possible to print a 3D replica. He goes on to explain why he thinks 3D printing, coupled with the Internet, is a disruptive technology. Finally, Weinberg discusses the thesis of his paper, where he anticipates industries affected by potential disruption will not compete with or adapt to this technology, but rather, will seek legal protection through IP law to preemptively regulate 3D printing.

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Andrew McAfee on digital innovation, employment and productivity

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Andrew McAfee, Principal Research Scientist at MIT’s Center for Digital Business, discusses his new book, co-authored with Erik Brynjolfsson, entitled, “Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy.” The book looks at the interplay between unemployment and fast-paced technological innovation. In the book, McAfee and Brynjolfsson propose that technology is outpacing humans, and they discuss whether humans can keep up. According to McAfee, technology is encroaching on skills that once belonged exclusively to humans. He believes that entrepreneurial thinking, different institutions, and new organizational structures can prevent humans from being left behind by the machines.

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