Governing cyberspace via ‘Constructive Ambiguity’ (and Schrödinger’s cat)

How can the vastness of cyberspace can be ‘governed’ in any practical way? Perhaps some ‘Constructive Ambiguity’ might help resolve such questions? A 2015 thesis by Professor Paul Cornish (Associate Director of Oxford University’s Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre and Research Group Director for Defence, Security and Infrastructure at RAND Europe in Cambridge, UK) suggests that useful constructive ambiguities – which might be applied to the problems of governing cyberspace – can be found in theoretical physics quantum theory. Using the example of Schrödinger’s cat, the professor explains that :

Quantum theory’s core proposition, known as the ‘superposition principle’, allows ‘the mixing together of states that classically would be mutually exclusive of each other’


In some respects, we might already have an elementary sense of super -positioning in cyberspace. For example, information is both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ in that it is made up of arrangements of digital code which have no physical substance, while at the time being sent and received electronically through machines and cabling. And as individuals with what is usually just one corporeal identity, we are nevertheless aware that we might adopt as many internet or cyber identities as we might wish. Similarly, where international cyber policy is concerned, we can identify various superpositioned ‘multiple states’ or dualities which we might wish state sovereignty to occupy at once: national and international; procedural and substantive; internal and external; intangible and physical; cultural and territorial.“

See: Governing Cyberspace through Constructive Ambiguity in the journal Survival : Global Politics and Strategy, Volume 57, 2015 – Issue 3. It’s also partly available here (you can buy the rest for £10).

Note: Although the word “Ambiguity” appears in the title, it appears not to appear in the essay itself.