Editor’s note: 

These are times strange enough that every conversation seems to include some verbal acknowledgment like “strange times, huh?” A quasi-anarchist police-free leftist separatist bubble has formed and is growing on Seattle’s Capitol Hill — a sentence that resembles a David Foster Wallace plot more than anything I ever anticipated treating as news. 

Both India and Russia have been hemming and hawing over long-discussed crypto bans, while the latter will be voting on controversial constitutional amendments allowing Vladimir Putin to extend his already 20-year term as president of the Russian Federation. This vote will reportedly be happening on a blockchain. Given Moscow’s recent history with elections, ingenious tampering is to be expected regardless. 

The U.S. is likewise facing major controversy over inept or even suppressed voting. With COVID-19 continuing to keep people at home and a presidential election later this year, the demand for remote voting has never been greater. 

Blockchain’s potential role in self-determination and distributing information has, consequently, flared up this past week. As Congress considers how it will prioritize privacy and autonomy in the technical implementation of a digital dollar, the New York Times aims to verify pictures from social media using blockchain to track metadata.

Pentagon squares up against simulated hackers working to earn BTC

The United States Department of Defense hosted a war game that incentivized young hackers to attack financial and government institutions and launder the money. The simulation rewarded the hackers in Bitcoin for their work starting a “Zbellion.”

The war game reportedly began in 2018 but is reflective of a broad and long-term strategy shift. Recent years have seen a radical pivot in the Pentagon’s overall focus. Despite the continued presence of active-duty soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, the folks at home have de-emphasized guerilla fighting and insurgencies. In their stead has come new training for great power conflict as well as cyber defense.

Cyber vulnerabilities have been thrust to the forefront of conversations about national security, especially after Russian interference in the 2016 election. Space Force is a good example of this as well — its most proximate goals will be protecting critical satellite infrastructure from hacks rather than building the Enterprise. 

Broadly, however, cyberinfrastructure has been an unspoken pressure point for a long time. America’s traditional military force remains the largest and best-funded in the world by a long stretch, but as more and more of the country goes online, adversaries can scan a wider range of undefended targets. Whether ominous or prescient, given current protests including a police-free “autonomous zone” growing in Seattle, this war game focused not on an external threat but an internal rebellion.