When you think of Colorado, you may see images of snowy mountain peaks, forests full of golden aspen trees, or legalized marijuana. You may think of skiing, hiking, or even Mesa Verde, where Native Americans carved their homes right into the side of a mountain. While all these aspects make Colorado unique, they do not represent all the state has to offer.
Colorado has long been a place where new technology is accepted, developed, and implemented. Lockheed Martin, one of the world's leading aerospace and information technology companies – and the US government's largest IT services, systems integration, and training provider – has called Colorado home since 1956. Webroot, a world leader in internet security, has worked in Colorado for the last 20 years. And in December of 2017, internet giant Google built a $131 million campus in the beautiful city of Boulder.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis hopes to keep Colorado at the cutting edge of technology by making the state a blockchain hub. Polis, a tech entrepreneur, was elected to represent Colorado's Second Congressional District in 2008, where he was very active in educating other members of Congress about blockchain technology and even created the Congressional Blockchain Caucus.
According to his campaign website, Polis' goal is to "establish Colorado as a national hub for blockchain innovation in business and government." ETHNews asked the candidate about his blockchain agenda, what it means for Coloradans, and what it will take for the federal government to fully embrace blockchain technology.
ETHNews: Why do you feel Colorado is the perfect place for a national blockchain hub?
Jared Polis: Coloradans have a forward-looking vision, and blockchain has the potential to revolutionize our future. We having a booming technology sector and the next governor will need to work alongside the business community to keep our state at the forefront of emerging markets in the technology sector. It's still the early days in the evolution of blockchain, but we should take the opportunity to get out ahead.
ETHNews: What kind of response have your ideas about blockchain technology received from the public of Colorado? From lawmakers? From business owners?
JP: The response has been positive. I was honored to work alongside a broad coalition of advocates, businesses, and lawmakers to craft this policy. The exciting news is that this is just the start! We're always looking for new perspectives to expand and grow this policy to incorporate priorities that will help Coloradans.
ETHNews: Besides attracting more tech businesses to Colorado, how will the creation of a national blockchain hub in Colorado benefit the average Coloradan?
JP: In recent years, the growth of distributed ledger technology has turned into a multibillion-dollar industry and has the ability to revolutionize industries across the nation and our state. I think Coloradans pride themselves on the ability to innovate and adapt to technology rapidly. From supply chains to cybersecurity to banking, blockchain-based solutions have the potential to reshape our economy, jobs, and government transparency. That's something I believe all Coloradans will benefit from.
ETHNews: On your website, it talks about using blockchain technology to improve the energy grid. As I am sure you know, mining cryptocurrency takes huge amounts of electrical power. If and when more crypto mining companies come to Colorado, how do you plan to give these companies the power they require, while at the same time not taking power from residents or raising their power bill?
JP: This is really two separate questions. On the energy grid front, we're looking at blockchain as a way to make our energy grid more reliable, secure, and cheaper for Coloradans pocketbooks. This could expand the opportunity of net metering, expand microgrids, and help us transition faster to renewable energy. On the crypto mining front, we need to make sure that it's done responsibly. I believe more of these companies will realize that the amount of energy they're consuming is not worth the pay-off of mining, and I'm excited about the potential for forward looking companies to move more tokens from Proof of Work models to Proof of Stake.
ETHNews: On your website, you talk about attracting tech businesses by protecting open blockchain tokens. Do you have any other plans to attract these kinds of companies? Tax breaks similar to Nevada?
JP: Similar to Wyoming, I will work alongside the legislature to create a statewide safe harbor designed to exempt cryptocurrencies from state money transmissions laws, and I will work to establish legislation that protects "open blockchain tokens" or cryptocurrencies that are exchangeable for goods and services. For any company when it comes to incentives, crytocurrency or otherwise, we need to see a very clear public benefit, we can't just throw money at shiny objects.
ETHNews: How has your work with Congress and the founding of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus prepared you to champion blockchain technology in Colorado if elected governor?
JP: As a tech entrepreneur and legislator, I'm always interested in learning more about the intersection of future industries and making sure policy can keep up with its growth. When I launched the Blockchain Caucus the sole focus was educating lawmakers on the emergence of this new technology. This is the same type of mindset and vision I want to bring to Colorado as governor. The relationships I've cultivated with the business community, policy experts, advocates, and my constituents will be incredibly useful for making Colorado a national blockchain hub.
ETHNews: Your website states, "Colorado can pave the way into the future and implement safeguards here at home with the hope that the federal government can catch up to our progress." Has the federal government helped or hindered your ambitions to implement blockchain technology in the past? How and why?
JP: The big push at the federal level is education. Distributed ledger technology has the ability to revolutionize all sectors of our economy, and this will take time to scale before crafting legislation and in-depth rulemaking at the federal level. States are laboratories to test what works and what doesn't and I think we can set something up in Colorado with enough safeguards that we will see more benefits than negatives. That said, it's important to realize this is a new technology and it will take time for the federal government to adapt.
ETHNews: What will it take for the federal government to adopt blockchain and cryptocurrency technology?
JP: Patience. We have to realize with any new industry that emerges that it will take time for everyone to understand the impacts. Education on this exciting technology remains the priority.