A cryptocurrency millionaire has spent $400 million on an enormous plot of land in the Nevada desert with the intention of building a utopian community based on blockchain technology.
The 27,000-hectare site in Storey County, outside of Reno, has been purchased by Jeffrey Berns, a lawyer and new-found cryptocurrency millionaire who has announced plans for an experimental community with decentralised blockchain infrastructure.
Blockchain, which began as a digital ledger on which all bitcoin transactions are recorded, has now been touted as the future of digital economy, making it possible for ordinary people to control their own data without relying on big companies or governments.
Berns, who is 56, made his millions buying and selling Ether tokens, which are used on computing platform Ethereum, before their value crashed.
He now envisages a new city spread over about 260 square kilometres, where houses, schools, commercial districts and production studios will be built.
The centrepiece of this giant project will be the blockchain, with real-world laboratories and research helping to push the boundaries of the fledgling technology.
Something inside me tells me this is the answer, that if we can get enough people to trust the blockchain, we can begin to change all the systems we operate by.Blockchains LLC chief executive Jeffrey Berns told The New York Times
Berns will have some high-profile neighbours with Nevada already home to Tesla's Gigafactory, considered one of the largest world's largest building by footprint, as well as industrial park's for the likes of Google, Apple and Switch.
The crypto-millionare's sprawling property was purchased for $236 million in cash earlier this year and has had further millions injected into the project in the shape of offices, planning and a staff of 70 people to help manage the ambitious masterplan.
The desert city, dubbed Innovation Park, will be split in two parts, a residential smart city with homes and schools, and a commercial sector with a campus for researching emerging technologies such as blockchain, AI, 3D printing and nanotechnology.
The tech campus will also feature an eSports arena to host international competitions.
Communal living facilities with shared amenities, civic centres and green courtyards to gather and develop ideas, are all promoted in the proposal.
While plans include self-driving electric cars and a drone delivery system, adding unparalleled technological comforts, Ethereum will be the city's common denominator with every resident and employee provided with an Ethereum address.
“Our land in Innovation Park will be a smart city with a decentralised blockchain infrastructure underlying all interaction,” Berns said in a statement.
“Efficiency, sustainability, transparency and provenance will not be compromised, but guaranteed.”
“Multiple innovative technologies will change the way its residents interact on a daily basis and blockchain technology will be at the centre of it all – keeping systems honest, fair and democratic.”
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.Blockchains LLC chief executive Jeffrey Berns told The New York Times
Berns also announced a memorandum of understanding with one of the Nevada's main power companies, NV Energy, to team up on projects that will run energy transactions through a blockchain.
"The goal of this collaboration is to create technology solutions that will produce customer-centric energy platforms powered by public blockchain, all with the intent of integrating approved incubations into Nevada's energy framework," Berns said.
Once built, Berns has said he will relinquish all decision-making power for the project and 90 per cent of any dividends it generates to a corporate structure that will be held by residents, employees and future investors.
That structure, which he calls a "distributed collaborative entity", will operate on a blockchain where everyone's ownership rights and voting powers will be recorded in a centralised digital wallet.
Berns has already received preliminary county support for the masterplan and, if approved, expects construction to start late 2019.