Blockchains LLC: Is a corporation building a blockchain city in Nevada?

In the Nevada desert, plans for a blockchain-based smart city are taking shape. Its builder is pursuing statesmanlike ambitions in the process.

Crypto investment firm Blockchains LLC is planning to build a crypto-city in the US state of Nevada. Jeffrey Berns, CEO of the company, is hoping for extensive special political powers for the area.

Berns wants to build a city where blockchain is used for more than just payments. Rather, his project envisages a comprehensive use of the technology for Bitcoin Revolution administration and the processing of personal data. The smart city is to be built in rural Storey County, an area not far from the casino metropolis of Reno. According to a report by the Associated Press, Blockchains LLC already acquired land there worth 170 million US dollars in 2018.

The company has offered to build 15,000 housing units there over the next 75 years. In addition, it held out the prospect of using 3 million square metres of commercial space. However, the political dimension of Berns‘ plans raises questions.

A blockchain state within a state?

The CEO’s ideas have spawned a bill that would create so-called „innovation zones“ in Nevada on (sufficiently large) land owned by a company. There, „alternative forms of political governance“ would be tried out. The zones would be placed under a three-member commission, with two of the members initially coming from the ranks of the respective company. In concrete terms, this means that corporations such as Blockchains LLC could take over state tasks such as jurisdiction, policing and taxation in these zones.

Berns justifies the push to abolish the state’s separation of powers with an economic argument. According to the CEO, the traditional state does not leave enough room for the innovative use of blockchains and comparable technologies. He explained to the Associated Press:

‚The ability to take risks, to be agile and figure things out, as you do when you design new products, is not the way government works. So why shouldn’t we just create a government that lets us do these things?

Unclear prospects for success

Whether Nevada’s lawmakers will act on this proposal, however, is under a big question mark. This is because the bill has not yet been officially filed or debated. However, the state is keen to diversify its economy beyond tourism. Meanwhile, the construction of new housing on the territory acquired by Berns is largely prohibited for the moment.

Steve Sisoka, the state’s Democratic governor, spoke favourably of Blockchains LLC’s plans in his annual address. He highlighted the innovation potential of a blockchain city. His campaign staff had received about 60,000 US dollars in donations from the tech company in the past. Furthermore, Elon Musk’s Tesla also operates a large manufacturing plant in the state.

Optimistic observers will have recognised the first step towards a tech utopia in Blockchains LLC’s push. Others may be more sceptical. After all, behind Berns‘ demands, a path to the hardly restricted corporate democracy can be suspected, which has become a fixed component of gloomy future scenarios at the latest since the sci-fi classic Blade Runner.

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