A technology millionaire wants to build a blockchain city in the desert


The desert in northwestern Nevada near Tesla's Gigafactory is full of artemisia and dust, but if a game of cryptocurrency millionaire aims at the way it wants the earth will soon flourish in a full-blown city, unlike any other that preceded it.

The land includes 68,000 acres of desert near Reno. The man behind the plan is Jeffery Berns, 56, a lawyer and founder of a company called Blockchains LLC. And the idea is to create a completely new community, the size of a city, which is entirely based on the blockchain – a sort of digital document preservation technology that's best known as the transaction log behind Bitcoin's cryptocurrency.

"We are building the world's first smart city based on technology, from infrastructure to the end," Berns said in Prague on Thursday during a project launch event. A moment later he added: "It is not so much a city as a series of different projects to highlight the power of a public blockchain".

The New York Times he visited the property and reported on Thursday that the development so far is limited to office buildings and topographic excavations. The Times he also reported that Berns spent $ 300 million of his own money on a staff of 70, as well as offices, floors and land.

Bern's ambition for that land, however, is enormous. The images published by his company show a sprawling and verdant city rising from the arid desert.

Credit: Blockchains LLC

During Thursday's launch event, Berns said the first step would be to build a 1,000-acre campus, which "will be a high-tech and high-security park". The projects on this campus will focus on the incubation of relatively new technologies such as artificial intelligence and 3D printing.

The next steps will include the construction of a study – which Berns said would "change the way content is distributed" and "restore power to content creators" – and a residential community. Everything in the community will be based on blockchain.

"Houses, apartments, condominiums, banks, markets, shops, schools," Berns said, describing what the community will include. "We will use the blockchain, the public blockchain, where ever possible."

Credit: Blockchains LLC

Berns also said he wants to build the world's first esports arena on Nevada ownership, and the "reputation of the participants will be kept on the blockchain".

when The New York Times underlined that Bern's ambitions are beyond what blockchain (technology, not company) have been able to achieve, he replied that "something inside of me tells me that this is the answer, that if we manage to get enough people to trust the blockchain, we can start changing all the systems we manage "

The Bern company did not respond to Inman's request for comment on Friday.

Credit: Blockchain LLC

The ownership of Nevada is not the only major acquisition of land that the Berne company has built. On Thursday, during his speech, he announced that Blockchains LLC has also purchased former government bunkers in Georgia and Wyoming, as well as fortress-like spaces that have been excavated in the mountains in Switzerland and Sweden. Berns described the European spaces as resistant to nuclear bombs.

All bunkers and mountain fortresses will be used to conserve digital resources. Berns said the sites will provide a level of security that "no bank, no single government can match".

The company has also released several promotional videos, including one in October showing a girl drawing binary code in the sand while supporting the potential of the blockchain.

In another video, released Thursday, the same girl states that "we are using the blockchain and we are building a real city".

But it was not immediately clear how the company could cope with the myriad of environmental complications that could result from building a "real city" from scratch in the middle of the desert. Water, for example, is an increasingly valuable resource throughout the West, and over 90% of Nevada is experiencing a level of abnormal dryness or drought.

In an apparent recognition of future challenges, Berns tweeted Friday night the project "will be the biggest thing that has ever happened, or the most spectacular crash and burning in the history of mankind".

During his speech, Thursday, Berns said he started looking for blockchain years ago, after his daughter asked him what he had done to change the world. After failing to find a good answer, he started looking for ways to change his life and eventually reached the blockchain in 2013.

"It occurred to me because I started to understand the potential of the blockchain," Berns said. "Imagine a world where anyone can collaborate anywhere, establish the rules of that collaboration, enforce those rules, exchange value and do everything on the chain of blocks – no government, no bank, no society, just trusting in mathematics."

Credit: Blockchain LLC

During the Berne speech on Thursday, he repeatedly criticized the banks, stating that his project was intended to cut off traditional power holders such as corporations and governments. He also said that he is not a software developer or programmer.

Instead, he just wants to change the world.

"This is me trying to create a movement to use the public blockchain to rekindle the individual," he said, "to change the way we do things."

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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