The Danish government has appointed a “digital ambassador” to tech companies in Silicon Valley, a testament to the increasing role of tech firms in international diplomatic relations.
The role of the embassy is mainly diplomatic; its mission is to act as an intermediary between states to foster bilateral relations.
The role of ambassador remains rooted in a two-century tradition: representing their country and defending its interests.#Denmark appoints a “Tech Ambassador” in Silicon Valley.Click To Tweet
An ambassador can also be a special envoy of a region, a cause, or, as was shown lately by the government of Denmark, to the tech giants of Silicon Valley.
Denmark’s, and the World’s, First “Techplomat”
Denmark is the first country in the world to appoint a special tech ambassador.
Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Anders Samuelsen, announced the new position in a press conference held last January.
“Companies such as Google, IBM, Apple and Microsoft”, said Samuelsen, “are now so large that their economic strength and impact on our everyday lives exceeds that of many of the countries where we have more traditional embassies.”
Among about 55 personalities who applied for the position, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs selected Casper Klynge in May as the first tech ambassador, for being “actively engaged on the tech and digitization agenda.”
Klynge is a veteran diplomat who has served as ambassador to Indonesia and Cyprus, as well as other diplomatic stints in Asia and Africa. However, for an envoy to the world’s largest tech companies, his resume (PDF) is devoid of any tech postings or expertise.
Klynge, who revealed his plan to practice what he calls “techplomacy”, will work to promote Danish interests by nurturing relationships and establishing dialogue with tech companies, and making Denmark attractive for investment.
The age of Tech: Flagless States of top Tech Firms
If the economic mission is already inherent in the function of an ambassador, who works to protect the interests of the state, it has now become predominant.
And in today’s world, large tech companies have become sort of flagless nations of their own, exerting a growing economical and political influence on the international diplomatic scene.
If Silicon Valley gets it’s way, soon to pass are the days when oil companies, like Exxon Mobil, head the list of most valuable companies. Now, it’s the age of tech.
Tech juggernauts like Apple, Google, and Microsoft could topple all oil giants, and are now so large that their market valuation exceeds the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of many countries.
Apple is the most valuable company in history with $798 billion of market valuation, followed by Alphabet, Google parent company, with $667 billion and Microsoft with $571 billion. Both Facebook and Amazon have also hit the $500 billion mark.
For comparison, Denmark’s 2016 GDP was estimated at $306 billion.
In its Foreign and Security Policy Strategy, Denmark has defined five priorities: national security; migration, instability and terrorism; Brexit; the Arctic; and technological diplomacy.
Denmark wants to open diplomatic communication channels with tech companies to attract investments and ensure economic and social benefits.
Denmark has been working for years to become a world leader in eco-tech innovation, presenting itself as a hub for green technologies.