What does a desert and cryptocurrency have in common? Both have unlimited potential of wide open space and a community-driven utopia.
Both are also part of one millionaire’s dream, which is to create a testing ground for an entire town to run on an ethereum-based governance system. The town would consist of homes, shops, and even a research-focused college. All components, including the campus, would be high-tech and connected through a communal blockchain.
The blockchain – since it uses etheruem’s ability to conduct smart contracts and uphold an anonymous and democratic voting system – can be used to run the town. Jeffrey Berns, the owner of Blockchains L.L.C., is conducting the town’s first major vote by giving 90 percent of the projects decision power to its future residents and investors. This is what Berns calls a “distributive collaborative entity,” where people have control of their personal space as well as their private data, all secured on the blockchain.”
Although giving power to the people is a common characteristic of potential “cryptopias” like this one, there is one thing that separates Berns’ passion from the rest. And that is he will be funding most of the project.
After getting rich from his early investment in ethereum in 2015, Berns went searching for land to start his cryptopian dream. He found it in Storey County, Nevada, on a plot in the middle of the desert larger than its neighboring city of Reno.
Forking over $170 million in cash of his own dough for land and an additional $130 million for office space and a staff of 70, Berns has begun the transformation of a high-tech wonderland set in the middle of nowhere.
Coined “Innovation Park” at a discussion panel that included, Berns; the Nevada Governor, Brian Sandoval; and Tesla Co-founder, Elon Musk, Berns’ idea has received rave reviews by the state as well as tech giants like Telsa, Apple and Google that surround the future home of Berns’ cryptopia.
He has even secured a contract with the county’s energy supplier, NV Energy, to run electricity bills through Berns’ blockchain.
Besides making the community efficient through the use of cryptocurrency, Berns also aims to keep personal data safe while removing middle men like governments and companies. People living in a blockchain community have control over their political, social, and economic outcomes. It would be a truly complete form of democracy.
The concern over security, says Berns, can be solved by emphasizing the proper way of storing private keys. He has even made plans to build vaults in the mountains of Nevada similar to the ones he already owns in Sweden and Switzerland.
Practicality is another issue Berns hopes to solve as we see time and again the lagging of ethereum and bitcoin transactions when the blockchain is overloaded. This may be the biggest trouble with the real-world application of a town run completely on cryptocurrency.
Berns puts it best in his own words, “This will either be the biggest thing ever, or the most spectacular crash and burn in the history of mankind. I don’t know which one. I believe it’s the former, but either way it’s going to be one hell of a ride.”