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Cryptocurrency Magnate Proposes Futuristic Smart Cities Run By Tech Giants

In the middle of the Nevada desert, in Storey County located 19 kilometers east of Reno, a cryptocurrency magnate plans to create a futuristic smart city. The investment will have approximately 3 million square meters and 15 000 homes and the company aims at breaking ground already by 2022. The idea of futuristic cities, the so-called innovation zones, run by tech giants was met with both skepticism and excitement. It is not hard to imagine that in the age of regulators trying to curb big tech excesses and decrease their power, such an idea will be controversial, to say the least.

CEO Of Blockchains LLC Wants Tech Giants To Run The Futuristic Cities

The initiator of the idea is Jeffrey Berns, the CEO of Blokchains LLC. In order to complete his idea, Berns is asking the state of Nevada to allow entrepreneurs holding companies from local forms of government on the land they own. That would allow the undertakings to decide on everything from the educational system to law enforcement. The CEO of Nevada-based Blockchains believes that the traditional government system lacks the flexibility that would let technology develop at sufficient speed. 

Transactions Made With Cryptocurrency, Online Footprint Logged On The Blockchain

The city that Berns dreams about would be run by transactions made with cryptocurrency, the online footprint of the citizens such as personal data, medical information, and financial statements would all be logged on the blockchain. As Associated Press reports, his ideas are the basis for a draft of legislation that was proposed to some lawmakers in a closed-door meeting last week. Under this draft legislation, the state of Nevada would allow “innovation zones” where companies have equal power to that of a state government. Thus, they could create their own court system, and decide over infrastructure, taxes, and schools.

“There’s got to be a place somewhere on this planet where people are willing to just start from scratch and say, ‘We’re not going to do things this way just because it’s the way we’ve done it,’” Berns said.

Tech giant smart futuristic city  (EYRC Architects/Blockchains LLC via AP)
This undated illustration provided by Blockchains LLC shows a proposed “smart city” in rural northern Nevada. A cryptocurrency company that owns 67,000 acres in rural northern Nevada wants state government to grant technology companies power to form local governments on land they own. Jeffrey Berns, CEO of Nevada-based Blockchains, LLC, wants to build a “smart city” run on blockchain technology on the land his company purchased in 2018. (EYRC Architects/Blockchains LLC via AP)

Is Traditional Government A Middleman Between People And Innovation?

Berns, who was a consumer protection attorney before he started the Blockchain LLC says that his idea was based on his belief that the current government is an unnecessary middleman between the people and innovation. 

“For us to be able to take risks and be limber, nimble and figure things out like you do when you’re designing new products, that’s not how government works. So why not let us just create a government that lets us do those things?” Berns said.

Futuristic Cities Run By Tech Giants Met With Fascination And Skepticism

The idea has been met with fascination and skepticism at the same time. Although the formal details are still to be filled officially and discussed in public hearings, the members of the Republican and Democratic Legislature both have already spoken out about what they think of Bern’s proposed revolution. From one side, lawmakers would like to see diversifying Nevada’s economy which is currently heavily tourism-dependant. On the other side, the fear of the backlash remains significant. The idea raises questions about the influence that large tech companies have on everyday life. The regulators across the world are attempting to curb big tech excesses and decrease the power of giants like Google or Amazon. Thus, it is not surprising that Bern’s futuristic city is not applauded by a large portion of the regulators. 

“I don’t know enough yet to say whether I’m comfortable with this as the next step or not. But, look, it’s a big idea and Nevada has been built on big ideas, so let’s hear it out,” said the Republican state Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, who sponsored blockchain-related legislation in 2017 and 2019.

Innovation Zones Smart Cities Governed By Three People, Two Of Them From The Big Tech Companies

If the proposal would be backed by the lawmakers, tech companies that have more than 200 square kilometers of land and would commit to at least $1 billion investment would be able to create these innovation zones governed by only three people, where two of them would be from the company itself. 

Lance Gilman, a commissioner owning the Mustang Ranch brothel and a former marketing employee at the cryptocurrency company Blockchains LLC  said that there are many unknowns linked to the proposal of innovation zones. 

”(The bill) wants the host county to let it form, become successful, not pay them very much money, and eventually let them take over the whole county and all the operations if it becomes successful,” Gilman said. “If it doesn’t become successful, who becomes responsible for all the stuff that was built in the meantime?”

Nel Tomczyk
Nel Tomczyk
Nel is a writer for RegTech Global. From her past experience, she gained a deep understanding of fintech, AI, regulations, and new technologies. She has vast experience in journalism and entrepreneurship.


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