Crypto enthusiasts and government officials are not natural allies, at least outside of Miami. And yet, Colorado Governor Jared Polis received a warm welcome when he appeared on stage at last week’s ETHDenver conference to present his vision for making Colorado the “first digital state.”
This is because he came to bring good news for the crypto devotees. Polis, a libertarian-leaning Democrat who made his fortune as an internet entrepreneur in the 1990s, has high hopes for blockchain technology. “Most people don’t trust big corporations or big governments, and that’s what blockchain allows us to solve,” he said to cheers from the ETHDenver crowd. “We view it as an essential part of Colorado’s overall innovation ecosystem.” To that end, Polis announced, the state will soon become the first to allow residents to pay state income tax and other fees using cryptocurrency, although the money will be converted. in good old American dollars before landing in the Treasury.
Polis also plugged Colorado’s cooperative statutes, which he says make the state particularly welcoming to “decentralized autonomous organizations,” or DAOs, a blockchain-based form of cooperative. And he discussed a project that aims to move the state’s livestock branding system to blockchain.
Wait, blockchain? Cows? While Polis found a following among ETHDenver acolytes, his presentation raised more questions than it answered. This week, the governor spoke to WIRED about his plan to make Colorado, including its cattle, the most blockchain-friendly state in the union.
WIRED: How would you explain to someone who doesn’t yet know much about blockchain why you think it’s an important technology?
Jared Polis: A secure, distributed ledger technology is very attractive compared to older centralized database systems for a number of reasons. One is privacy and distributed control over your own information. Another is security, because when you have a centralized system it can always be vulnerable no matter what level of protection you have in a way that a distributed system inherently isn’t. Third, it can be more egalitarian. And fourth, it can be more welcoming to disruptions and startups. When you have legacy systems, whether corporate or government, they can have an anti-competitive impact.
What does all this have to do with cattle brands?
Cattle brands are exactly what you think they are. It’s a distinctive logo, which ranchers have sometimes passed down to their families, that is affixed to cattle raised in Colorado — and other states with cattle have similar systems — and added to a registry. . You apply for your trademark and there are tens of thousands of trademarks, many of which are no longer in use, but you cannot use one that someone else uses. The current system for that in Colorado and other states is a centralized database, a centralized ledger.
I’m from New Jersey, so just to make sure I’m with you: the fact is, if my cow wanders off or gets stolen, we know who owns it.
Absoutely. They get lost and stolen and you know who it belongs to, no doubt; it’s recorded. It is also used to capture and prosecute cattle rustlers who steal cattle. It is therefore used to prevent both theft and loss of livestock, which is a multi-billion dollar industry in the state of Colorado.