Launching a new network
On February 21, 2023, diplomats of 25 countries in the San Francisco Bay Area, international organizations, and private tech companies gathered at the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) in San Francisco and launched the Tech Diplomacy Network.
The World Economic Forum officially partnered with the Technology Diplomacy Network to build a platform for informal exchange, trust building and collaboration. It’s a community of tech diplomats based in Silicon Valley, sharing best practices and facilitating dialogue on technology strategy, governance and policy.
“We want to build together with our partners a community in order to share best practices, enhance collaboration, and bring conceptual clarity to this relatively new and emerging field,” says Martin Rauchbauer, one of the Co-Founders of the network. The Tech Diplomacy Network will enable not just this, but will also provide new ways for Silicon Valley’s tech diplomats to collaborate with other stakeholders, allowing them all to work together to shape safe future technologies that benefit us all.
What is Tech Diplomacy?
Brazil’s Deputy Consul General and Tech Ambassador, Eugenio Vargas Garcia, sums tech diplomacy up as “the conduct and practice of international relations, dialogue, and negotiations on global digital policy and emerging technological issues among states, the private sector, civil society and other groups”.
It goes further than digital diplomacy, which loosely describes the digital tools countries use to carry out dialogue and achieve their aims, as well as the issues those tools throw up, including privacy, cybersecurity threats and cross-border data flows.
Tech diplomats also have to keep up to date with a wide range of additional emerging technologies, from quantum computing to blockchain and the metaverse, says Garcia.
“They are expected to be able (ideally) to interact with many different sectors, industries and innovation ecosystems, while seeking win-win cooperation with partners in frontier technologies to help promote economic and social development back home.”
As Rauchbauer explains: “Tech diplomacy is a tool that will be crucial for all diplomats no matter what fields they are in or what countries they are working for. We believe that the digital and technological transformation will soon require that all diplomacy will be tech diplomacy.”
Silicon Valley has become a tech diplomacy hub simply because it’s the world’s biggest centre of tech innovation. It’s where start-ups can piggyback on the existing infrastructure, talent pool and marketplace created by the A to Z of established tech giants, from Apple to Zoom, so it makes sense for policy-makers to have a physical presence.