Blockchain technology is seeing wide-scale adoption across a multitude of sectors as an alternative means of conducting business. The low overhead and instant monitoring capabilities of blockchain networks can give companies a huge advantage in the marketplace. It now appears that the world’s militaries are also looking to take advantage of this unique technology.
The number of military organizations looking into acquiring blockchain technology is growing. Armies from the United States, China, and India have all already publicly announced blockchain-based military programs. As you are about to learn, there is a quiet arms race being fought between countries looking to be the first to weaponize blockchain technology. You may not think that blockchain technology can kill, but, once applied to a military logistical chain, it could improve the lethality of the entire fighting force.
The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act was passed into law by President Donald Trump. This legislation includes blockchain specific language. To be more precise, the Act states that funding must be set aside to create a briefing on the cyber applications of blockchain technology.
The blockchain research stipulation falls into two categories. The first part is dedicated to monitoring how foreign powers, extremists, and criminals are using the technology. This assessment will be used to see if any of these outside organization’s methods could be successfully applied to the US military. It appears that the US military is keen on not falling behind in the blockchain battlefield, and they are closely monitoring weaponized blockchain developments globally to ensure future dominance.
The second part of the bill sets up a committee to examine the current and planned uses of blockchain technology on a federal level. Specifically, the bill covers the use of blockchain technology in infrastructure projects. States are looking to capitalize on the funding. New York announced plans to open the NYC Blockchain Resource Center in May of this year.
Blockchain integration into infrastructure projects could help to improve public relations as well. Currently, many of these projects lack the transparency needed to gain large-scale public trust. When you consider the amount of political corruption encountered over the last couple of years it is easy to see why the public is losing faith in these projects. The addition of a blockchain-based protocol could help to alleviate concerns and increase development. Politicians such as David Cameron have run their campaigns preaching the benefits of integration.
The instant consensus capabilities that are afforded by blockchain technology could play a major role in determining how government projects are prioritized and funded in the future. Russia is already using a blockchain-based program called Active Citizen which allows people to vote on non-political issues such as speed limits, naming public property, and bus routes.
The Senior Vice President of the public sector of the Information Technology Industry Council, Trey Hodgkins, explained the importance of the bill and its structure. Hodgkins explained that the goal of the bill was to create flexible funding that could be used to study a wide range of applications for blockchain tech.
Already, examples of blockchain use are emerging in every sector of the military, from personal identification to weapons targeting, to supply chain management. The efficiency provided by this technology could be exactly what the US military needs to improve, what some view as, wasteful systems currently in place.
The NATO Communications and Information Agency is another example of a well-funded government organization looking to weaponize blockchain technology in the coming decade. Interestingly, NATO is primarily focused on logistics and financial applications for the technology.
NATO is currently evaluating proposals regarding blockchain integration. Officials have announced that contracts will be awarded from the Innovation Challenge, part of a summit that focuses on integrating new technology into the battlefield. It has been reported that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is also heavily involved in the program. DARPA is interested in a secure messaging and transaction platform.
The Blockchain Arms Race
The USA and its allies aren’t alone in their aspirations to weaponize blockchain. It appears that China is also pushing towards quick integration of this innovative technology. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) published an article this year in which they highlight specific military applications for blockchain technology. The paper suggests that it is critically important for China to not fall behind in adoption.
Weaponize Blockchain – “Media Wars”
China has been eyeing blockchain technology for years now. If you dig deeper, you can find military references to the blockchain as far back as 2016. The journal of National Defense Science & Technology published an article called “Blockchain Technology and its Potential Military Value.” The article focused on blockchain integration into intelligence operations, weapons lifecycle monitoring, personnel management systems, and military logistics.
Indian officials have expressed concerns over weaponized blockchain as well. A recent article published by a group of Indian scholars highlighted how this technology could be used to hack into high-security military systems in the near future. The paper explains that in the future the combined computing power of a blockchain network could be harnessed to overpower the current computer defenses that are available.
It has been said that “war is the mother of innovation” and if this is true, blockchain technology is about to go through a renaissance as the global arms race is just heating up. This innovative technology has the potential to be used in almost every facet of the military. The stakes are high in the game of war, and blockchain technology appears to be able to provide countries a more efficient means in which to conduct the business of war.
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