Rally Bendel | Blockchain and Cryptocurrency initiatives gaining momentum in the UW

LARAMIE — The state, city, and University of Wyoming are focusing more on some of the newer technology areas that some hope will become a major economic support for Cowboy State: blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Dans la foulée des efforts législatifs de l’État pour rendre l’État plus favorable à une industrie émergente, UW a commencé à enseigner des cours sur la blockchain il ya trois ans et a ouvert sonnum Center pour la blockchain et l’innovation year next. Its director, Stephen Lubian, says the impact of technology on future generations may be similar to that of the Internet.

“There is hardly any place in the UW that will not be affected by blockchain,” Luppian said.

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Simply put, a blockchain is a data-sharing system that works by sharing information between multiple computers or groups of computers. Information is linked into groups called ‘blocks’ which are related to each other.

The technology is widely known as a registry and security system for digital currencies like bitcoin, although it may also have important applications in education, farm management, emissions tracking, and healthcare, Lubbian said.

Since 2017, the country has opened the door to cryptocurrency development, passing no fewer than 24 laws aimed at opening up the sector and ultimately giving Wyoming a reputation as the “wild west” of cryptocurrency, according to Fortune.

The changes came in large part from a call made by Caitlin Long, a UW graduate who was also the wife of Lupien and CEO of Avanti Financial Group, a cryptocurrency banking company.

The cryptocurrency is known to be highly volatile with drastic changes in its value, which raises concerns about its security and reliability. Bitcoin is known to fluctuate 30% in one day, according to Forbes.

Others, like Long and Lupien, hailed it as a game-changing financial investment that helped create jobs in Wyoming and fill in the gaps left by the state’s declining coal industry.

At UW, blockchain and cryptocurrency initiatives are gaining momentum. The university has already established itself as an industry leader as the first Division I university to offer a degree program in digital assets and the first to have Bitcoin miners on campus (there are now 12).

Last month, the university received a donation of $645,000 from Ripple, a leading cryptocurrency and blockchain company.

The funds, which will be disbursed over a three-year period, will create a Ripple Blockchain Collaboration on campus that will be housed within the Center for Blockchain and Digital Innovation. The new sector will include students from the College of Law and College of Engineering and Applied Sciences who would like to learn more about cryptocurrency, blockchain and cybersecurity, according to a press release.

Lubbian said this initiative brings the university and the state closer to their goal of using the industry to make more money. It also benefits companies in the industry looking for cities with skilled labor and the infrastructure to set up their operations.

“(The industry) wants to build the infrastructure it needs to be successful,” Luppian said.

He also hopes that this growth will limit the number of students who earn a degree at the University of Wisconsin and immediately leave the state in search of jobs.

“This is about jobs and opportunities in Wyoming,” Lubbian said. “We have to embrace the business that comes here and we have to embrace the workforce.”

The Laramie Chamber Business Alliance also sees potential in the sector, although the group has focused on recruiting tech companies that look at intellectual property and infrastructure rather than the data mining process itself. – So said President Brad Enzy.

Enzi said that there are currently no crypto or blockchain companies in Laramie, but some are using blockchain technology as start-ups.

A technology company with the data mining side resulted in the creation of a store in Cirrus Sky Technology Park, a technology business district in Laramie.

The company needed to have more electricity than was available at the Laramie location, which led it to choose Pine Bluffs after signing a letter of commitment to the local lot. The area was originally expected to hold more than 70 megawatts of electricity, but some of that electricity was reserved for other uses before the company could reserve it for itself.

Enzi a partagé cette information avec le conseil municipal de Laramie lors d’une réunion le 24 mai, notant que le manque d’infrastructures suffisantes a fait perdre à la ville une opportunité économique car l’entreprise de noit bi auxé résé region.

The electricity problem surprised city council members, some of whom were relieved that the company had chosen to move elsewhere.

“I feel there is a real disconnect between our stated goal of reducing electricity emissions in Laramie and the arrival of a company that uses (a lot of energy),” said board member Erin O’Dherty. “I can’t get too excited about bitcoin mining and data mining and all the things that are going to increase our carbon emissions.”

Technology data website Digiconomist expects a bitcoin transaction to consume 2,221 kilowatt-hours of electricity — the same amount the average American household would use in 76 days — and 1,239 kilos of carbon dioxide.

The energy consumption of cryptocurrencies stems from the methods used to lend their value. Cryptocurrencies are subject to one of two possible complex verification processes: Proof of Work or Proof of Stake.

Luppian said the biggest power consumption comes from proof-of-work methods, which have evolved as supercomputers run around the clock to solve very complex mathematical problems. Every time a problem is solved, a piece of cryptocurrency is created and a block is added to the blockchain, where transactions are transferred. Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency that uses this system.

Other devices use Proof of Stake, which can be completed on a regular home computer and consumes less power.

In addition to the pollution concerns, crypto-mining centers across the country have suspected complaints from residents about noise pollution from industrial fans used to cool supercomputers.

While Enzy did not describe any specific environmental or societal considerations that the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance uses when recruiting businesses in Gem City, he said the group recruits only companies that will operate within state and local regulations.

The City of Laramie allows cryptocurrency and other tech business activities as long as they follow the rules and regulations already written in city ordinances. Planning director Derek Tenney said companies would only be allowed into the industrial zones and would go through a review process.

“Nearly every crypto company is looking to be able to purchase cleaner, greener energy,” Enzi said. “There are companies that use a lot of energy but still buy green energy.”

Lubin said that while Proof of Work coins raise concerns about energy consumption, the industry is moving toward greener verification methods.

“I think Wyoming needs to embrace this asset class,” Lubbian said. “This is the world.”

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