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TechPlomacy (technological-diplomacy)

In mid-2017, Denmark became the first country in the world to elevate technology and digitalization to a crosscutting foreign and security policy priority. The initiative was named technological diplomacy, or simply TechPlomacy.

“We’ve been too naïve for too long about the tech revolution. We need to make sure that democratic governments set the boundaries for the tech industry - and not the other way around. That’s where the Danish TechPlomacy initiative comes in.” - Denmark’s Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod

Read more about the initiative, our partnerships and projects on these pages.

Why TechPlomacy?

WhyTechpolomacy

Denmark’s TechPlomacy initiative aims at addressing three interlinked trends in foreign policy today:

First, some of today’s most far-reaching societal changes are driven in part or full by technological disruption in different forms and shapes: The impact of artificial intelligence and automation on the future of jobs; big data on the protection of personal information; social media on democratic dialogue and elections; Internet of Things on cyber security; digital business models on taxation systems; and crypto-currency on global financial architecture. These trends – sometimes grouped together as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ - are international per design, transcending borders with an unprecedented speed, transforming almost all sectors of society, and impacting not only domestic markets but the global balance of power and established values and institutions.

Second, the multinational tech companies driving this technological innovation have become extremely influential; to the extent that their economic and political power match - or even surpass - that of our traditional partners, the nation states. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult for policy-makers at all levels to keep up with the pace and impact of new technologies.

Third, the transformative nature of emerging technologies combined with the rise of powerful non-state actors are shaping foreign policy and geopolitics in new ways. As an example, Artificial Intelligence is rapidly becoming a battlefield in a shifting global balance of power, cyber security have risen to top of the national security agenda, and 5G networks have become a contested issue internationally. As the Center for Long Term Cyber Security at UC Berkeley points out: ‘Digital geopolitics is no longer a layer superimposed on conventional geopolitics; digital is creating new alignments among new actors, and not only states.’

For a government to rely solely on traditional diplomatic relations to bring home knowledge, promote its interest and safeguard values abroad, no longer seems sufficient. The TechPlomacy initiative was launched by the Danish government in 2017. The purpose of the initiative was first elaborated in the Government’s Foreign and Security Policy Strategy 2017-18. The mandate cut across foreign and security policy, including cyber, development policy, export and investment promotion, and a range of sector policies – as well across Denmark’s bilateral relations with other countries and in the EU and multilateral fora.

How is TechPlomacy operationalized?

The Danish TechPlomacy initiative is spearheaded by Denmark’s (and the world’s) first Tech Ambassador. The Office of the Danish Tech Ambassador has a global mandate and a physical presence across three time zones in Silicon Valley, Copenhagen and Beijing - transcending borders and regions and rethinking diplomacy.

WhatISTechplomacy

There are two overall aspects in the operationalization of TechPlomacy: (i) Like all other embassies we bring forward concerns or questions on behalf of Danish authorities in a direct and frank dialogue with the tech companies in order to try and influence the direction of technology and our own preparedness. (ii) Influence the international agenda around tech policy questions in accordance with Danish interests and values, including through new alliances, multilateral fora, and multi-stakeholder partnerships.

The topics we deal with on a daily basis range from cyber security and disinformation, combating terrorism online and exploring the effects of deep fakes, to digital taxation, protecting privacy online, responsible artificial intelligence and data ethics.

On behalf of Danish authorities, we also engage on a number of specific sectorial questions. What should we expect from autonomous vehicles in the coming years, how will CRISPR technology change the nature of health care, and how can we integrate dynamic data from Internet of Things in our public data infrastructure in a safe and effective way.

Through traditional diplomatic cables - as well as more modern forms of communication such as social media, videos and our 'TechPlomacy Talk’ podcast – we aim to bring home insights on these and other topics to Danish policy makers and other stakeholders.

Why Denmark?

Danish PartnersGFX

Denmark is one of the most digitalised countries in the world, according to the European Union and the United Nations. We have a relatively small and agile bureaucratic system, a robust, green and reliable energy ecosystem, and a creative and adaptive workforce, which is relatively well equipped to succeed in the fourth industrial revolution. Yet, like other countries, cities and regions around the world, we need to be ready to adapt and engage with new technologies and their adverse impacts on society, economy and labour market.
In other words: Denmark has as much at stake as any nation in the area of digitalization. By engaging proactively on the main opportunities and risks of emerging technologies, we aim to ensure that Denmark’s values and interests guide the global discussion.