Nevada proposes legislation to allow tech companies to form ‘smart city’ governments
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CARSON CITY, Nevada, February 16, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Proposed legislation in Nevada would give tech companies specializing in fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), wireless data management, and biometrics the power to form their own separate “smart city” governments. Observers are concerned about the consequences, especially in the context of residents’ privacy.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced the planned legislation during his State of the State address on Jan. 19. The proposal would give “innovative technology” companies the power to form separate local governments with the same authority as a county, called “Innovation Zones.” Such governments would have the ability to levy taxes, form justice courts and school districts, and provide government services.
The draft proposal, which was last updated on Jan. 31 and has not yet been introduced in the legislature, lists the specific kinds of companies that fall under the umbrella of “innovative technology”: They include artificial intelligence, wireless technology, “the Internet of things,” blockchain, biometrics, and renewable resource technology.
The proposal explains, “‘Innovative technology’ means any new or emerging technology, or novel use of an existing technology, to address a problem or provide a benefit in government administration, government services, nonprofit organizations or private enterprise in this State.”
The draft further states that an “alternative form of local government” is needed to “further economic development within the State.”
The “traditional forms” of local government, it says, are “inadequate alone” to make the State “a leader in attracting and retaining new forms” of business and “fostering economic development in emerging technologies and innovative industries.”
Poised to lead this proposed groundbreaking endeavor is a company that uses blockchain technology, specifically a special kind of ledger to permanently and securely record transactions. Blockchain was originally invented to serve the cryptocurrency bitcoin, “but also has been adopted by some local governments for everything from documenting marriage licenses to facilitating elections,” according to the Associated Press.
Sisolak shared on Jan. 19, “Following passage of my Innovation Zone legislation, Blockchains, LLC, has committed to make an unprecedented investment in our state to create a smart city in northern Nevada that would fully run on blockchain technology — making Nevada the epicenter of this emerging industry and creating the high paying jobs and revenue that go with it.”
Blockchains explains the company’s vision on its website: “We envision a world transformed by blockchain technology, in which the distinct line between digital- and real-world interactions no longer exists.”
“Our software solutions presently in development focus on preparing the world for the next phase of the internet’s evolution — Web 3.0 — with an emphasis on digital identity, digital assets, connected devices, and a stable means of digital payment,” their website states.
Blockchains further explains their “smart city” vision: “By connecting smart devices to a blockchain — from smartphones and computers to internet-enabled cars, smart locks, advanced manufacturing machines, and security systems — we can facilitate marketplaces, payment services, or even a sharing economy for the Internet of Things.”
According to IoT Agenda, “The internet of things, or IoT, is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.”
The “innovative technologies” listed in the Nevada proposal, such as the IoT that Blockchains mentions, all facilitate the “smart city” envisioned by Blockchains, founded on the interconnectivity of a wide spectrum of data.
Thales Group explains how data interconnectivity could benefit city functions: “Citizens engage with smart city ecosystems in various ways using smartphones and mobile devices and connected cars and homes. Pairing devices and data with a city’s physical infrastructure and services can cut costs and improve sustainability.”
“Communities can improve energy distribution, streamline trash collection, decrease traffic congestion, and even improve air quality with help from the IoT.” The site continues, “Without actionable, real-time, and reliable access to data, the smart city can’t thrive.”
Blockchain technology has been described as “instrumental” to Web 3.0 and the IoT, which itself is a defining feature of Web 3.0, by “allowing users to interact and removing trust issues through smart contracts.”
Many have expressed concerns about the infringement on privacy and security that IoT poses, even where the government may supposedly not be intimately involved in access to personal data.
However, if the very company that manages data transmission — in this case, Blockchains — is itself the government, then unprecedented questions are raised about the very meaning of privacy.
An editorial for WIRED has warned regarding the IoT, “You aren’t just going to lose your privacy, you’re going to have to watch the very concept of privacy be rewritten under your nose.”
The Las Vegas Review Journal has noted that in 2018, Blockchains, LLC, bought about 67,000 acres of undeveloped land in Storey County, Nevada.
“Since then, the firm has given heavily to political candidates and PACs,” the Review Journal continued. These donations have included $50,000 to a Home Means Nevada PAC, “which managed Sisolak’s transition into office, in January 2019, according to campaign finance records,” and “$10,000 to Sisolak’s campaign in the 2018 election cycle.”