blockchain nevada lab

In the middle of the Nevada desert, a cryptocurrency pioneer is building an ambitious blockchain community and research center. 

Nestled between Tesla’s gigafactory and facilities run by Google and Apple, the sprawling blockchain “utopia” will feature a high-tech park, an e-sports arena, and a college.

This is the grand vision of Jeffrey Berns, a lawyer-turned-entrepreneur who made his fortune buying ethereum back in 2015. After selling at an opportune moment, he amassed a multi-million sum.

“This will either be the biggest thing ever or the most spectacular crash and burn in the history of mankind”

Speaking to the New York Times, Berns outlined his ambitious goal of building a community around blockchain technology.

He plans to establish a new blockchain town on the Truckee River, complete with schools and houses, all with full backing from the local Storey County officials in Nevada.

Visit the site at the moment, however, and you’ll find a solitary office building acting as the nerve center for the project. Berns has poured more than $300 million into the land and development so far, including the hiring of 70 staff members to get the project off the ground.

Nevada blockchain laboratory
A future vision for the blockchain research park. Credit: Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects and Tom Wiscombe Architecture

High-Tech Neighbors: Tesla, Google, Apple

This once-quiet desert region in Nevada is now home to some of the biggest tech companies on the planet.

Tesla’s notorious “gigafactory,” the biggest factory on Earth, is located right next to Jeffrey Berns’ blockchain development. Apple and Google’s data centers are nearby, with Switch’s data center based near Las Vegas. Microsoft also runs an operations center in the region.

If San Francisco is the beating heart of the tech world, Nevada is its nerve center.

Tesla was lured here with a $1.3 billion incentive, while Berns cites the low tax environment and zero income tax.

The location of his blockchain utopia puts future blockchain research right in the heart of the tech world. It’s an apt choice for a future of collaboration and experimentation.

Powered by Ethereum

Berns may have made his fortune with ether, but his love for Ethereum doesn’t end there. He plans to run the entire project and community through the Ethereum blockchain.

Further reading: What is Ethereum? (A Simple, Comprehensive Guide for Beginners)

All employees and residents in the community will use the Ethereum system to vote on local decisions. They’ll also use it to store and control their personal data, with private keys stored across multiple devices for security.

As an extra backup, Berns is planning to build cold storage and deep storage vaults in the Nevada mountains.

This blockchain utopia won’t just help develop blockchain technology, but actively use it to function. The societal experiment is as big a feature as the blockchain laboratories he aims to build.

“Something tells me this is the answer”

As he explained to the NYTimes, “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.”

“Innovation Park” as the development is known, is still in the early stages, but it’s an exciting venture for blockchain technology. We may begin to see not just technological advancements, but real community change, powered by blockchain. 

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Amazon has unveiled plans that could allow law enforcement agencies to use big data to link Bitcoin addresses to their owners.

Documents filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office show that Amazon Technologies, a subsidiary of the Seattle tech conglomerate, has won a patent for a data streaming marketplace that it believes could help law enforcement agencies unmask Bitcoin users.

Simply put, the proposed marketplace would allow users to subscribe to individual data feeds, which would transmit detailed information in real time. Many of these data feeds would likely be inconsequential in isolation, but Amazon sees organizations such as law enforcement agencies subscribing to multiple feeds and then using dashboard applications to analyze data and identify correlations.

One potential use case involves law enforcement agencies using multiple data streams to analyze Bitcoin addresses, which are pseudonymous but can be combined with other data such as shipping addresses to unmask users.

From the patent:

“For example, a law enforcement agency may be a customer and may desire to receive global bitcoin transactions, correlated by country, with ISP data to determine source IP addresses and shipping addresses that correlate to bitcoin addresses. The agency may not want additional available enhancements such as local bank data records. The streaming data marketplace may price this desired data out per GB (gigabyte), for example, and the agency can start running analytics on the desired data using the analysis module.”

That’s just one of the data marketplace’s many potential applications, but it’s notable that Amazon envisions it as one of the platform’s top use cases.

Indeed, while blockchain-tracing tools exist, law enforcement agencies have often struggled to adapt their investigative methods to Bitcoin and other blockchain-based currency systems.

Identifying individual cryptocurrency users is also often an arduous process since investigators must find a piece of identifiable information that can be specifically linked to a cryptocurrency address.

Amazon’s data marketplace would largely automate that process, giving law enforcement unprecedented insight into cryptocurrency transactions but perhaps also driving the privacy-conscious toward anonymity-focused cryptocurrencies such as monero and zcash.

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