Computational Diplomacy: Foreign Policy Communication in the Age of Algorithms and Automation

 

Abstract

This report is the first instalment of a three-volume series commissioned by the Bosch Stiftung on the implications of automation, algorithms, and machine learning for the practice and communication of international politics.

"The pace with which communication technologies evolve will render the concept of ‘digital diplomacy’ obsolete before it even became mainstream. The evolutionary impulses of political communication are being increasingly driven by automation and computation, and seek to overload, overwhelm and distract collective attention on a global scale. Websites and social media actors are no longer necessarily ‘human’ and ‘bots’ - that are operated by a single programmer – can mass-produce digital content at a theoretically infinite scale. Such digital content can be factually false, misleading or anachronistic and can easily flood social media systems during emergencies and crises. They can impair diplomatic communication and escalate inter-state disagreements; worse, they can bypass governments and influence entire populations at key political junctures. By increasing the likelihood of misperception, they also render armed escalations more likely. To that end, automation sits at the heart of modern diplomatic evolution and requires a new framework and strategy that goes beyond ‘digital’."
 

Akin Unver is a Visiting Fellow of the Centre for Technology and Global Affairs and Assistant Professor of International Relations at Kadir Has University.

 

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