US Space Force BTC is a Network Revolution

US Space Force's BTC Integration A Revolutionary Network Evolution

Author: Maj Jason Lowery, Translator: Qin Jin

On December 2nd, US Space Force Major Jason wrote a letter to the Department of Defense Innovation Committee titled “Background Document on the National Strategic Significance of Bitcoin.”

In the document, Maj Jason deeply elaborated on the strategic significance of Bitcoin’s proof of work for national cybersecurity. He even stated that Bitcoin’s proof of work network represents the deterrence strategy of the 21st century. Bitcoin is not just a financial innovation, but also a paradigm revolution in network security, completely consistent with the concept of strategic deterrence.

He expressed that by simply considering Bitcoin as a monetary system, we may underestimate its potential to fundamentally change the internet’s underlying infrastructure and have far-reaching downstream impacts on network security.

I believe that Bitcoin is not just a cryptocurrency but the beginning of a network security revolution. It transforms the global grid into a large and costly computer, or what I call a macrochip, and utilizes it to physically restrict malicious actors, protecting various data and information traversing the internet, including financial information.

Bitcoin symbolizes the collective effort made by the world to establish a powerful physical defense mechanism in cyberspace. It employs strategies that have been tested and proven over thousands of years by humanity to protect their own interests in various fields; that is, developing new technologies to physically overcome opponents. Bitcoin’s power projection capability surpasses any potential malicious entity, including an entire nation. Its power output also far exceeds the combined output of all other proof-of-work networks.

Below is the full text of the letter:

To the esteemed members of the Defense Innovation Committee:

During my studies at the US Air Force School of Aerospace Command and Staff, we learned about the concept of deterrence, which involves using technological advancements to offset or negate the traditional military strength or numerical advantage of an opponent. This approach involves creatively using cutting-edge technologies to gain strategic and tactical advantages in unconventional ways. In short, deterrence strategies attempt to change the balance of power by introducing transformative capabilities, thereby redefining the nature of power and the dynamics of conflict.

I believe that reusable proof-of-work networks, such as Bitcoin, represent the deterrence strategy of the 21st century. While the Bitcoin protocol is often associated with cryptocurrencies, it can also be said to be the most successful implementation of the early engineers’ concept of a reusable proof-of-work protocol in operation. Over the past thirty years, computer scientists have been exploring various types of proof-of-work network security protocols. Coincidentally, fourteen years ago, a reusable proof-of-work network security protocol was developed and adopted, initially aimed at protecting financial information from systematic exploitation and abuse, and thus named Bitcoin. However, this name misleadingly suggests that this reusable proof-of-work protocol is limited to protecting financial information and not almost all forms of data, information, or command signals. Therefore, this misunderstanding underestimates the technology’s wide strategic significance for network security and subsequently national security.

To understand the importance of the Proof of Work protocol, we need to have a brief understanding of network security. Remember, hacking attacks fundamentally exploit the inherent logic of computers and information systems. For over eighty years, software engineers have been striving to protect computing and information systems from hacking attacks by developing increasingly complex coding logic to conceal system vulnerabilities. This technology is believed to effectively safeguard the intrinsic logic of computing and information systems. However, this strategy has a major flaw: no matter how complex the coding logic is, it cannot withstand systematic exploitation of the same logic. In other words, relying solely on software cannot completely guarantee the security of computers and information systems because all software is susceptible to hacking attacks. This vulnerability explains why network security remains a pervasive problem despite our efforts to improve anti-hacking software.

However, there has been an innovative wave in the field of network security recently, where people are not only using coding logic but also developing unique countermeasures to make the physical cost of exploiting known network vulnerabilities prohibitively high, rendering them unfeasible. This approach marks a significant shift from traditional methods that rely on coding complex logic barriers to conceal system vulnerabilities, making them undetectable to hackers. Instead, it introduces the concept of using brute force physical power as the primary source of protection for computing and information systems, signifying a subtle but noteworthy change in network security strategies.

The academic community, which was early to explore this new concept of network security (most of whom lack military backgrounds and seemingly have no experience in physical security aspects), arbitrarily decided to name it Proof of Work. However, it must be emphasized that the concept of Proof of Work is simply computer scientists discovering how to prevent and prohibit malicious behavior in cyberspace by imposing excessively high physical costs on these actions, making them impractical. From a system thinking perspective, the academic community essentially rediscovered the same core function of military deterrence, only in a different form.

Proof of Work reflects the physical security and deterrence strategies adopted in other domains such as land, sea, air, and space, where inflicting high physical costs on adversaries is the primary means of protection. It’s essentially the same game, just in the fifth domain. The key difference lies in the nature of the work or physical power used. Unlike the kinetic, lethal, or “hard” force projection typically used in a military context to protect territories or physical assets, Proof of Work utilizes electricity. This approach can protect non-physical or intangible resources such as data, information, control signals, or digital properties, representing a non-lethal or “soft” form of tangible power projection that individuals and governments can now harness for their own advantage. I delve deeper into this concept in my graduate thesis at MIT, titled “Soft Warfare: A New Theory of Power Projection and the Strategic Significance of Bitcoin.”

However, how can tangible costs be imposed in the intangible domain of cyberspace? Surprisingly, it is indeed possible to prevent malicious activities in this intangible realm through tangible means. This strategy involves the use of physically resource-intensive computers. By designing a computer with high physical operation costs and forcing its usage, we can effectively introduce physical constraints into cyberspace and impose them on anyone operating in, from, or through cyberspace. To achieve this, such a computer can be constructed and integrated into the internet infrastructure, thus transferring real-world physical constraints to previously unconstrained digital realms for various cybersecurity applications.

This significant and subtle change in the underlying integrated architecture of the internet will occur at its foundational level, the underlying state machine. Most people, especially software developers and computer scientists, often overlook this aspect of the internet due to its immense complexity, intentionally abstracting it to be a mature disruptive innovation field. Few pay attention to the mechanical structure at the bottom of the internet technology stack, yet it is here that impactful transformations can be realized, such as the introduction of physically resource-intensive computers, transplanting real-world physical constraints into the digital domain.

This idea raises some intriguing questions: how can a computationally expensive computer be designed? This concept contradicts the trend in the field of computer engineering over the past decades, aiming to reduce size and energy consumption, as seen in microchips, photonics, and quantum computing. To develop a high-cost operational computer, we need to reverse this trend and create a deliberately large, resource-intensive system. This approach involves a shift from the efficiency of microchips to the concept of macrochips – a super-sized, resource-intensive, and massively cost-consuming computing device. This concept challenges the prevailing view in computer science that smaller and more efficient computers inherently hold advantages. However, a review of academic literature indicates that few computer scientists have paused to question this assumption or explore the potential benefits of deliberately designing large, resource-intensive general-purpose computers. It’s an uncharted territory.

The intriguing next step is how to construct this so-called macrochip. Interestingly, the infrastructure required to manufacture such a chip already exists in the form of the global power grid. The global power grid is so vast and extensive that it surpasses national borders, requiring a massive amount of electricity that no single country can independently provide or manage. Yet, the global power grid is essentially a network of wires injected with different electrical charge states. In other words, fundamentally, it is the same technology as the circuits in traditional computers, just on a larger scale and consuming more physical resources. From a space perspective, the global power grid even resembles a circuit board of a computer, indicating its potential as a foundation for building macrochips.

From a computer science perspective, it is entirely feasible to transform the global power grid into a large-scale, high-energy consumption general-purpose computer or macrochip. The key is to find a way to digitize the electrical power grid. This process requires developing a system that converts the different power consumption states of the grid into information bits that can be transmitted over the internet. This sounds complicated, but what is astonishing is that this is not even a theoretical concept. This technology has already been developed and its global adoption is faster than the internet itself. We call it “Bitcoin”.

The world’s first operational “macrochip” may be hidden in plain sight, essentially unnoticed by most people because they are not proficient in computer science, network security, or aware of the potential benefits of creating a resource-intensive computing mechanism. They see it merely as an inefficient currency database. It’s similar to how alchemists in ancient China thought that black powder was just a way to treat burns. Currently, our understanding of this new technology is limited to its initial intended use. This oversight may prevent us from recognizing and harnessing the full strategic scope of Bitcoin, just as early Chinese alchemists underestimated black powder. We perceive Bitcoin solely as a monetary system, which may cause us to underestimate its potential to fundamentally alter the infrastructure of the internet and have far-reaching downstream effects on network security.

Taking these insights into consideration, I believe Bitcoin is not just a cryptocurrency, but the beginning of a network security revolution. It transforms the global power grid into a massive, physically expensive computer, or what we call a “macrochip”, and uses it to impose physical restrictions on malicious actors, protecting various data and information traversing the internet, which may include but is not limited to financial information. Bitcoin symbolizes the collective effort of the world to establish robust physical defense mechanisms in cyberspace, employing tried and tested strategies humans have used for millennia in other domains to protect their own interests – developing new technologies to physically defeat opponents. Bitcoin’s power projection capability surpasses that of any potential malicious entity, including entire national states. Its power output also dwarfs the combined power output of all other proof-of-work networks.

In a study on emerging military technology ethics conducted at the Air Force Command and Staff College, we explored how the emergence of computer technology and network systems brought warfare into the realm of cyberspace. This transformation requires a critical reassessment of the fundamental nature of war and how traditional military theory applies to modern network conflict. While recognizing the need to update our understanding of war to encompass the network elements, I propose that it is also essential to carefully examine proof-of-work technology.

The proof-of-work technology, represented by Bitcoin, has the potential to reshape our understanding of warfare in the digital realm. At the very least, these innovations have already been changing our understanding of cybersecurity. Given the proven impact, it would be best for the Department of Defense to formally investigate the cybersecurity applications of these technologies. The integration of this technology could completely transform the defense strategy of cyberspace and lead to significant changes in how we handle cyber conflicts.

In summary, I believe that Bitcoin represents not only financial innovation but also a paradigm shift in cybersecurity that aligns perfectly with the concept of strategic deterrence. This shift in power dynamics is not driven by the financial uses of Bitcoin technology, but rather by the ability it gives people to protect important information using physical force in the age of information. I believe we are at a critical moment in the history of human power projection, and if we do not recognize and adapt to this deterrence quickly, it could alter the global balance of power.

I strongly recommend that the Defense Innovation Committee advise the Office of the Secretary of Defense to prioritize the investigation of the national strategic importance of proof-of-work protocols like Bitcoin. If the points in this letter are accurate, then the Department of Defense may have already lost valuable time and opportunities by not fully recognizing the potential of this technology beyond its initial classification as electronic cash. The key now is to acknowledge this oversight and take urgent action. Doing so is crucial to understanding and effectively leveraging this technology to promote defense and cybersecurity strategies. Addressing this issue is vital for the United States to maintain its position as a global superpower and leader, especially in an increasingly digital and interconnected world where cybersecurity vulnerabilities are all too common. This proactive approach can ensure that the United States always stays at the forefront of technological advancements in defense and security.

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