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Diplomacy in the Age of Networks - Agenda

The Aspen Institute Dialogue on Diplomacy and Technology (ADDTech) convenes leaders from the sometimes disparate worlds of diplomacy and technology to address how new technological tools can be used better for public or citizen diplomacy around the world.

As more noted authors are recognizing each year, networks are a dominant form of organization in the world of 2017.  The Internet, the international air travel system and international banking are all examples of global networks.  Social network Facebook claims 1.86 billion active users, almost one-fourth of the world’s population in its single network.  Weibo, China’s largest microblogging network, has almost 300 million active users and over 600 million registered.  Beyond large social networks, non-state networks have assumed roles formerly the province of nation-states.  At this point, the Islamic State and other terrorist networks pose the greatest physical danger to the United States, and Anonymous, a non-state network of computer vigilantes, has declared war on ISIS.

Diplomacy among nation-states has long operated on a government to government basis.  As other players emerge in the global governance scheme, however, the importance of networks cannot be ignored.  In short, diplomacy needs to acknowledge the significance of the network form, and understand how network principles can serve diplomatic interests.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Session I.  Network Power
All sessions will take place in the Lauder Room, Koch Building
The Dialogue begins with an exposition of network power.  What is a network, and how does it gain power?  Participants will explore different ways networks form to impact global decision-making, from standards bodies to communities of interest across borders, to social networks. How do network effects work in the global diplomatic scheme?

Session II. Network Principles
If networks are the key organizational structure to consider, then how do they work – what are the key principles that govern network behavior?  From the application of the power law and network effects to gatekeepers and influencers, what are the characteristics of a network where leverage can (or cannot) be applied?

Session III.  Viruses of Ideology
One form of network is biological, and the virus is the negative manifestation of that form.  Most people understand the virus in its biological form, and have come to fear viruses in the computer device or network.  But a more pernicious virus is emerging – the bad meme, ideologies that run against the betterment of mankind, e.g., fascism and racism.  How are such meme viruses addressed in the global network?

Friday, August 4, 2017

Session IV.  National Interest in a World of Networks
Diplomacy is the art of getting one’s way through non-violent means.  In global relations, it is persuading other countries to see the world consistent with one’s national interests.  But in a world dominated by the network form, how does a country engage to assert its national interests?

Session V.  Implications for Diplomacy
In the end, diplomats need to move the world in a positive direction both for the diplomat’s own country and for the global commons.  What can diplomats learn from the emergence and operations of networks?  What action steps are appropriate now and in the longer-term future?