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For many readers, a graduate thesis doesn’t sound like a page-turner, but a lengthy academic paper on Bitcoin written by a U.S. Space Force major has emerged as a popular pick on Amazon.
“Softwar” asserts that Bitcoin has the potential to play a major role on the world’s geopolitical stage as a military-grade solution for securing information—far different than the monetary use Bitcoin’s network has today.
Written by Jason Lowery, the report represents the culmination of academic research he conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during a 6-month fellowship sponsored by the Department of Defense. The full title of the piece is “Softwar: A Novel Theory on Power Projection and the National Strategic Significance of Bitcoin.”
Lowrey's brief biography on Amazon claims that he has advised several senior U.S. officials on Bitcoin-related policy in offices related to the president, Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Though “Softwar” doesn’t place within the top 500 books on Amazon’s store, Lowery’s exploration of Bitcoin has hovered around the number one spot in Amazon’s digital currencies category and is currently ranked second in both books on technology and engineering.
The more than 350-page tome draws on knowledge from various fields, such as anthropology and computer science, to establish and explore Lowery’s “Power Projection Theory.”
Essentially, Lowery posits that the proof-of-work system underlying Bitcoin transaction verification can be leveraged by military powers to impose restrictions on bad actors in a non-lethal through a steep amount of physical work in the form of crunching numbers.
“The bottom line is that Bitcoin could represent a ‘softwar’ or electro cyber-defense protocol, not merely a peer-to-peer electronic cash system,” the book states. “While most software can only logically constrain computers, Bitcoin can physically constrain computers.”
The book’s acknowledgments section gives a nod to some of Bitcoin’s most faithful, including MicroStrategy’s Michael Saylor and Peter McCormack.
In his paper, Lowrey also writes that insufficient reserves of Bitcoin held on behalf of the U.S. government could pose a threat to the nation’s national security if the network becomes utilized as a cyber-security tool.
“If the U.S. does not consider stockpiling strategic Bitcoin reserves, or at the very least encouraging Bitcoin adoption,” he said, “The U.S. could forfeit a strategically vital power [...] and set itself back in global power dominance.”
Given that Lowrey’s thesis was published in February and the U.S. announced that it sold $215 million in seized Bitcoin last month, perhaps not every Fed is on the same page.
The book also includes a disclosure that states the paper is not reflective of any official position held by the DoD, Air Force, or MIT.
Out of the more than 200 ratings “Softwar” has received on Amazon, a majority gave the book five stars.
But a few reviews say that Lowrey’s text is lacking due to “too much wishful thinking,” “arguments based on opinion,” and quotes from “The Matrix” that “detract from the seriousness of the topic.”