The Great Cyber Solarium Dialogue

Published in The Cipher Brief: August 22, 2018

5 Pages Posted: 31 May 2019

See all articles by Jessica Zhanna Malekos Smith

Jessica Zhanna Malekos Smith

Duke Law School; Kings College London, Department of War Studies, Students

Date Written: August 22, 2018


The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes a provision by U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) to establish a Cyberspace Solarium Commission. The 14-member commission is charged with the task of “develop[ing] a consensus on a strategic approach to defending the United States in cyberspace against cyber attacks of significant consequences.”

But here’s the dilemma: If the purpose of the commission is to produce a national cyber doctrine and encourage a “deliberate, structured debate,” then why is participation limited to only 14 hand-selected cybersecurity and national security experts? And who chooses these experts? Isn’t such cherry-picking likely to result in confirmation bias, or at least fuel other forms of cognitive bias?

Cyberspace is everyone’s space; is it not therefore reasonable to incorporate a more diverse cross-section of society to debate these issues?

So, if a greater cross-section of the people, cannot be included in the commission, why not bring the ‘commission-concept’ to the people -- in the form of a Platonic-style dialogue. The ancient Greek Philosophers Socrates and Plato valued this form of testing arguments because “reasoning and truth can only be gained through dialogue. They saw the search for truth as a process of assertions and testing those assertions.”

Reader, you are invited to join the Cyberspace Solarium Dialogue.

Keywords: cyber, war, international law, international relations, cybersecurity, cyber law, peace, conflict, strategy, espionage

Suggested Citation

Malekos Smith, Jessica Zhanna, The Great Cyber Solarium Dialogue (August 22, 2018). Published in The Cipher Brief: August 22, 2018. Available at SSRN:

Jessica Zhanna Malekos Smith (Contact Author)

Duke Law School ( email )

210 Science Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

Kings College London, Department of War Studies, Students ( email )

King's College London, Strand
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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