A digital mogul wants to relocate his business to the Nevada desert. Further, Jeffrey Berns hopes to create a revolutionary “smart city.” But it’s not skyscrapers or next-gen internet he’s building: Berns wants to form a new kind of government.
Berns is CEO of Nevada-based Blockchains, LLC. His company keeps track of a new type of transactions made with cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrency, or crypto, is digital money. People can use crypto to buy goods and services online—without a go-between like a bank. Many people believe this kind of transaction is safer and more private.
Part of Berns’ vision involves a city where people buy and sell entirely with crypto. But Berns also sees a place where residents log everything—bank statements, medical records, and personal data—on Blockchains’ ultra-secure ledger technology.
Blockchains, LLC wants to break ground on such a city near Reno by 2022. Berns proposes building 15,000 homes and 33 million square feet of business space over the next 75 years.
Building a city isn’t Berns’ only big idea. He wants Nevada to change its laws to allow “innovation zones.” These zones would give companies like Blockchains, LLC powers similar to those of a local government. The powers would include creating court systems, running schools, imposing taxes, and building roads and utilities.
Berns believes the future will require such governance for freedom of invention. “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,’” he says.
A company doubling as a government? The Bible suggests there’s wisdom in separating powers. In the Old Testament, God separated the roles of prophets, priests, and kings among earthly leaders. Separation of powers helps prevent abuse and protect freedom for all. Only the incorruptible Jesus could fill all three roles perfectly at the same time.
Nevada lawmakers are viewing Berns’ project with both interest and suspicion. Most are eager to lessen Nevada’s dependence on tourism. But politicians don’t want to be seen as pushing business ventures while the state struggles to fund healthcare and education.
Nevada’s Governor Steve Sisolak presented a proposal in favor of the idea in February. He called it “an exciting, unprecedented concept that has a potential to position Nevada as a global center of advanced technology and innovation, while helping to create immediate positive economic impact and shape the economy of the future.”
Some folks think Berns’ concept is far-fetched—and possibly dangerous. After all, tech companies have a strong grip on everyday life. And the public believes giants like Facebook and Google already hold too much power, endangering privacy and freedom of thought and expression.
Sisolak foresees these so-called “innovation zones” as able to transform Nevada into “the epicenter of this emerging industry and create the high-paying jobs and revenue that go with it.” But at what potential cost to its citizens?
Whatever becomes of Blockchains’ city, bit by byte, digital commerce is changing the way the world does business.
What Is Cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is a type of digital or virtual money. It doesn’t exist in physical form—so no folding money or spare change in the crypto commerce world. But you’ll still need a wallet to store it in—only, it’s a digital wallet too. You’ll also need a key to access your wallet—a virtual key, of course. Actually, you’ll need two keys: a public key and a private key. To buy with your crypto, you’ll share your public key with the seller. But no one gets access to your private key. That helps keep your cryptocurrency safe from hackers and thieves.
Many banks and governments use virtual currencies. They move money electronically while no cash actually changes hands. Those currencies are offered by centralized governments. The governments track and to an extent control the amount of wealth available. But cryptocurrencies work differently. They are decentralized currencies. That means no government controls their value or volume. And transactions conducted with cryptocurrency use cryptography—or complex codes—to keep them secure. While bank debit cards and accounts are notoriously easy to hack, crypto is not. Some people even go so far as to say crypto is unhackable!
Dozens of cryptocurrencies operate right now. But the biggest and most-established brands are Bitcoin and Ethereum. Don’t be surprised if you begin to see “Bitcoin accepted here” signs showing up in the marketplace. Many investors believe cryptocurrency is the way all earthly commerce will work in the future. People already make daily purchases directly from their phones. Crypto supporters say those transactions will just become more secure.
God promises that all His people one day will “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Isaiah 55:1)