The article discusses the potential of Bitcoin as a tool for modern warfare based on a recent MIT thesis by Space Force Major Jason Lowery. The thesis proposes Bitcoin as a creative tool for power competition, as well as a cyber-security tool and a vector for economic exchange. While the concept is certainly imaginative, its plausibility is still up for debate.
The MIT Thesis on Bitcoin as a Cyber-Warfare Weapon
According to Politico, the MIT thesis titled “Softwar” written by Lowery points out that Bitcoin’s proof-of-work guessing game provides a viable alternative to modern warfare involving nuclear warheads or swarms of killer robots in terms of future power competition. He believes that as the younger generation gains influence in American institutions, they will view crypto networks as practical tools rather than mere novelties. The major proposes that the use of these networks could become a significant factor in the power dynamics of the future.
Lowery’s “Softwar”: Bitcoin as a Creative Tool for Power Competition
In the 400-page thesis, Lowery draws a comparison between proof-of-work competitions and the Olympics or chess matches, which served as a form of non-violent competition during the Cold War era. The winner of proof-of-work contests gains power within a distributed computer network that assigns abstract property rights, rather than national prestige. Additionally, he suggests that the Bitcoin network can be seen as a modern-day equivalent of maritime trade routes, serving as a medium for economic exchange in the digital realm.
Proof-of-Work Contests: A Messy-Free Avenue for Future Power Competition
Lowery’s work puts forth that the winner of each round in proof-of-work competitions earns network tokens and the privilege to publish the succeeding block of transactions. The decentralized nature of proof-of-work, which relies on the ability to use energy to create computer guesses, means that power within the network is spread out across physical space and diverse energy sources that cannot be easily controlled from a central location.
Bitcoin as a Cyber-Security Tool and a Vector for Economic Exchange
Lowery advises that Bitcoin has the potential to function as a tool for cyber-security similar to the concept of “hashcash” proposed by Adam Back before the advent of cryptos. He suggests that software systems could utilize Bitcoin to combat specific types of attacks, such as denial-of-service attacks.
The approach would involve designing programs that respond solely to external signals accompanied by substantial transactions recorded on the Bitcoin network. Lowery advocates for the United States to amass reserves of Bitcoin, foster a domestic Bitcoin mining sector, and extend 2nd Amendment safeguards to the technology on the premise that it serves as a means of self-protection.
The Plausibility of Lowery’s Proposal
While the proposal is certainly creative, its plausibility is still up for debate. The political hurdles include countervailing national imperatives to curb carbon emissions and maintain the ability to impose sanctions through the dollar banking systems. Moreover, even if the Pentagon embraces Lowery’s view of the military value of Bitcoin, the U.S. may face challenges in implementing his proposal.
Lowery’s paper is a unique and thought-provoking perspective on the potential uses and benefits of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as alternatives to modern warfare. However, some of its parts, such as stockpiling Bitcoin, cultivating a domestic Bitcoin mining industry, and extending 2nd Amendment protections to the technology, may be controversial and impractical. The idea of treating Bitcoin as a weapon of self-defense is also a novel and potentially polarizing concept.
Overall, Lowery’s thesis offers a fresh perspective on the potential uses and benefits of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. While some areas of it are certainly over-the-top, his ideas provide valuable food for thought on the potential role of cryptocurrencies in the future.
Giancarlo is an economist by profession with a career spanning nearly two decades. His professional journey has seen him assume vital roles in various government and private organizations such as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Megaworld Corporation, and the China Banking Corporation in the Republic of the Philippines.
In addition to his civic and corporate pursuits, his forward-thinking approach has led him to manage several prominent websites in the banking and finance sector, notably the Australia-based RateChoice, where he immersed himself in the world of emerging financial technologies and where he found particular interest in Bitcoin all the way back to 2013.
Prior to his addition to Blockzeit’s dynamic team, he held an essential role as Project Manager for initiatives encompassing blockchain, stablecoin, mining, special economic zone development, and iGaming. This noteworthy chapter in his career unfolded under the auspices of InPlan Consultancy Services, Inc., the think-tank of IMPERO Consortium Management Corporation headquartered in Manila, Philippines, and Tokyo, Japan. InPlan, led by a distinguished retired Cabinet member of the Philippines, collaborates directly with IMPERO’s core management team, contributing to strategic planning and business development endeavors.