Author: Joseph S. Nye, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Explorations in Cyber International Relations; Information and Communications Technology and Public Policy; International Security; Science, Technology, and Public Policy
Power depends upon context, and the rapid growth of cyber space is an important new context in world politics. The low price of entry, anonymity, and asymmetries in vulnerability means that smaller actors have more capacity to exercise hard and soft power in cyberspace than in many more traditional domains of world politics. Changes in information have always had an important impact on power, but the cyber domain is both a new and a volatile manmade environment. The characteristics of cyberspace reduce some of the power differentials among actors, and thus provide a good example of the diffusion of power that typifies global politics in this century. The largest powers are unlikely to be able to dominate this domain as much as they have others like sea or air. But cyberspace also illustrates the point that diffusion of power does not mean equality of power or the replacement of governments as the most powerful actors in world politics.
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