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Abstract

Evaluating, and choosing between, possible cyber futures requires making collective decisions about values. Tradeoffs exist in the design of any governance arrangement for information and communications technologies (ICTs). At minimum, policymakers will be required to choose between governance arrangements that optimize for speed and scale on the one hand, and those that optimize for diversity and decentralization on the other. As in any other political domain, every eventual outcome will create winners and losers, at least in relative terms. Actors dissatisfied with outcomes may perceive a discrepancy between entitlements and benefits. In some such cases, they will act on this justice motive. Existing research on justice as a motive for human behavior suggests that cases of conflict where one party is driven primarily by a justice motive may be associated both with intractable conflict, and with conflict characterized by lack of restraint. In the cyber domain, these kinds of conflicts will be most costly to advanced industrial democracies most dependent on ICTs. Pressing the first mover advantage in the digital domain is likely to foster resentment that will have negative consequences for the global cyber regime complex, and perhaps also for the rules and institutions of the international system writ large. Rule-making efforts in the ongoing process of global cyber regime complex formation should proceed in a deliberate manner and accept partial, voluntarist outcomes less likely to create highly dissatisfied parties. The article describes basic value tradeoffs associated with different cyber futures, reviews the literature on justice as a motive for human behavior, and outlines its implications for the future of the cyber domain. It ultimately concludes that the most likely outcome is that the United States will find itself in an increasingly isolated position.

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