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Digital Diplomacy: An Algorithmic Approach Towards Geopolitics

The world politics is enforced by ample number of complex and unpredictable actors which always demand the innovative methods from the diplomats. Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the diplomacy is the startling new dimension in the world of geopolitics. AI technologies such as NLP (Natural Language Processing) are useful for the state to establish communication with the foreign natives. Authors present an unique perspective on global policy makings, global diplomacy and data gathering.

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Based on Artificial Intelligence(AI), Google's AlphaZero broke all human records and achieved what is called superhuman performance in the world of chess. And, so the man behind chess science website Chessable, David Kramaley, made historic remark, “We now know who is our new overlord. Think about how this could be applied outside chess. This algorithm could run cities, continents, universes.”  What will happen if one applies the Artificial Intelligence into the complex world of geopolitics, diplomacy and foreign policy decision making? By the way, it is already happening. Machine learning is unfolding the new era of digital diplomacy. The foreign policy decision making is diving deeper into the world of algorithm. 

Diplomacy is an established art to execute global cooperation and support. The entire swing of relations between states based on different external agents is always important constrain for the peaceful diplomacy. The salient characteristics of diplomacy is negotiation, negotiation among different political states under the condition of independence. Diplomacy is a passive procedure to align situational interest among the states. The core purpose of the diplomacy is to establish communication between countries and endeavour to preserve the national interest in global level.  

The world politics is enforced by ample number of complex and unpredictable actors which always demand the innovative methods from the diplomats. Each emerging situations in global platform could create the out of control statues for the state. The state must be vigilant to handle the traditional or non-traditional international challenges. Under the global strategy successful diplomacy always lead countries towards symmetric solution of the problem. 

The power dynamics of the world is changed due to the incarnation of social media or digital platforms. The exponential evolution of Information Technology is showcasing a paradigm shift in each sphere of the society. Every country is bound to encapsulate the IT for the smooth governance. 

The revolution of digital initiatives providing an opportunity to diplomats to fabricate new approach towards the practice of the diplomacy. The quick and vast changes occurred in operating environment for the global diplomacy is due to the development of more sophisticated technological eco-system.   

The Diplomacy in internet era is referencing re-definition of methods and modus-operandi of conducting the required diplomacy. The ICTs (Information & Communication Technologies) is creating the major impact on contemporary diplomatic theories. The technological involution is encountering the new art of negotiation between the nations. The powerful digital platforms are advocating intelligent-skills for the pursuance of the core objective of the diplomacy. The active presence of online actors are deeply influencing the offline activities of embassies and diplomats.  

The intersection of diplomatic doctrines and digital platform is creating different approach of handling the global politics known as digital diplomacy. Digital diplomacy is demand of future and substitute manifestation of public diplomacy and completely based on the computational power and technical skill of the country. The states should accept the digital diplomacy as the core tradecraft for the future of the global politics, rather than plug-and-play approach. Integration of digital intelligence with the traditional diplomacy could help to diplomats to reach the broader audience of the globe. 


Digital Outreach & Diplomacy      

According to Global Digital Reports the total population of the earth is 7.75 billion. Among them 5.19 billion people is mobile phone user, it is approximately 67% of the total population of the world. Beside this 4.45billion users are using internet globally which is 59% of the total population of the world. The estimated active users of social media are 3.80 Billion or 49% of the total population of the world. 

The mammoth size of mobile users is influencing the matrix of the global power play and giving the unexpected direction to flow of global power. The negative narratives on social media framing complex situations for the countries and affecting the behaviour of the foreign states. 

The digital platform outreach demanding the new role from the states. The boundary-less feature of online platform is driving diplomats towards unique kind of problems based on cross-border-phenomena. Diplomacy in internet era is far different from its conventional approach due to nature of direct connectivity with the natives of foreign countries. Diplomats are required to demystify new challenges and facts about the global power movement which is smartly controlled by the tech giants. The digital technology ecosystem is creating global software products and boundaryless global tech incorporation with more global employees. The omnipresent nature of information technology is creating new centre of power in foreign policy affairs. 

To handle modern day’s challenges, countries are now appointing the tech ambassadors. The tech ambassadors are responsible to rethink the diplomacy in digital era. The market value of some of the tech-giants are more than GDP of some countries. The abbreviation of FAANG is “Facebook-Amazon-Apple-Netflix-Google” the five tech-titans of America and the market value of FAANG group is more than the GDP of Indian Economy. Other hand BAT is group of Chines tech-giants known as “Baidu-Alibaba-Tencent” also showcasing their economic capabilities in global market. Due to huge economic size and global reachability, the tech-giants are a new type of sovereign state or country. The practice of digital diplomacy is bringing Government, Civil Society and Technology incorporations on single platform. 

The new information ecosystem is crafting a unique kind of effective platform for the diplomats to handle foreign policies by the influencing foreign population or groups directly. Digital diplomacy is also useful to instigate the behaviour of the foreign government by the deployment of different social media methods. Diplomacy in digital age enable diplomats to intrude directly with the specific group of belief in intensive direction. In traditional diplomacy words are considered as the bullet, in modern era diplomats are engaging the digital platforms to deliver messages or attract in arguments to foreign citizens through real-time online interaction. Now a day’s enemy countries diplomat is proficient to generate false-media footprints with the help of gray-communication.      

Different social media platforms are providing advanced and smart virtual weapons to states for the internet-psychosocial-warfare. It is a new type of mass-conspiracy theory, where minds of citizens are controlled through the social-media. Now foreign-actors could manipulate the behaviour of the natives by the internet. 

The digital ecosystems are providing the favourable platform to international actors to execute conspiracy based on psychological frames such as false beliefs, inauthentic news and fact denialism. The misinformation could be spread rapidly from enemy-land on the internet to disbalance the sovereignty of a state. It is fact that the digital tools are providing high volume of opportunities to society, but with new complex and dynamic threats. They are re-arranging the philosophy of statesmanship. The digital domain is new coliseum for diplomats for the race between countries.   

The globalization of the information technology is creating profound impression among the policy makers and enforcing them to draw the new norms for the future governance. The radical or extremist groups are using digital platform as their operation room for the desired activities. Global digital network is accessed by the extremists due to its proximity features, reachability up to last node of society, support creation and borderless broadcast of ideology. 


State within a State or Deep State 

Digital platforms are working as a deep state in a state and fabricating new political epistemology. Openness of internet platform is nurturing different ideologies in same state, sometimes it is very tough for the local government to handle such deep states. Other hand the deep states are also executed from the foreign land and generates hard constrain for the state. 

The Cambridge Analytica-Facebook Data scandal is one of the best example of power of social media. It is considered that approximately 87million Facebook profiles of Americans had been intruded by the British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica for the political advertisement.

The psychological analysis of profiles was performed for the US Presidential Election 2016. The theme of the analysis was to influence the behaviour of the voters after the analysis of their ideology. 

The execution of traditional diplomacy is a major challenge for the small states due to budgetary constraints. Digital Diplomacy is helpful for the small states to execute diplomacy seamlessly. The Digital Diplomacy was efficiently used by the “Republic of Kosovo” due to tiny size of new country and limited monetary condition. To catch the international recognition and affiliations Kosovo launched the Digital Kosovo Platform, September 3rd 2013. The concept of online diplomacy helped this young country to successfully engage with world politics within limited resources. 


Algorithm Driven Diplomacy     

Technological development is equipping governments with digital intelligence and adequate analytical power. The comprehensive development of algorithms, network technologies, software and hardware embraced more powerful digital platforms and Knowledge platforms. The integration of data analytics tools with the open platforms providing more decision making capabilities to modern diplomats. For the diplomatic campaigns and strong oversees presence the states are shaping positive social media profiles. 

The amalgamation of offline and online diplomacy in creating hybrid type of diplomacy, which could be crafted through the advanced algorithms. Algorithms are fabricating information platforms for the users but more stiff for the diplomats due its extreme reach-ability. 

In digital platforms the aggressive agents encapsulate different kind of algorithms on social platforms to split in different social traits, alter the societies into different sects. The algorithms are also capable to diminish the performance of the government by undermine the narratives of state policy decisions. Algorithms are using AI, Deep Learning and Big-Data concepts to authentic analysis of available public data. Algorithms are providing the intensive capacity to diplomats for the multi-analysis of data. 


Artificial Intelligence: Agile weapon for Geopolitics  

Data would be fuel for the future economy and capability of crystal clear analysis of available data would be engine for the economy. The world economy is marching towards the programmed economy and states are engaged themselves to demystify the behaviour of the other states. The blended approach of Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning is providing the multidimensionality to the developed countries. Countries are now interested to use the AI as an agile weapon for balancing of the geostrategic power of the world. 

Diplomacy is always consider as the strategic board game, and AI technologies could be implanted to trace the move of other player. The AI Algorithm could increase the probability of success during the negotiation. 

To reduce the supremacy of the western tech-giants, China introduced the “China AI Policy” to build AI hub 2030. The Chines government AI –Tool box is conceptualised by the Chines Policy makers for establish control over the global policy-making, global-diplomacy, diplomatic-negotiations and data gathering. 

AI capabilities are deployed to for international decision-making.    

AI could be one valid tool for the future of diplomacy and capable to identify the responsible actors and their counter effect accurately. The knowledge of AI is appropriate for the frontline policy making of a state such as economy, military, security and business. AI could useful for the diplomats to identify the potential areas of international diplomacy. 

AI technologies such as NLP (Natural Language Processing) are useful for the state to establish communication with the foreign natives. Many states are using image processing and advanced information analysis techniques to identify the probable terrorist activities and other sequences.

Some embassies are using the AI to decode the hidden pattern of unusual demand for emergency passports or visa-requests. AI systems are trained with data of certain period and Machine-Learning helps the system to be more start by day-to-day data learning. AI will automate the major policies of the state locally and globally. The AI-Enabled system would provide a productive predictive capability to state regarding the future foreign policies.           

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Manish Kumar Jha

Manish Kumar Jha is an Associate Editor, BW BUSINESSWORLD. He writes on the Foreign affairs, International Trade and Defence. His global coverage-on the ground- spans more than 25 countries worldwide

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Amit Das

Co-Founder and CEO of Think Analytics

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