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How Do Nations Use Technology in Foreign Relations?

Technological advancements have evolved as the primary drivers of social, financial, and political change, connecting, but at the same time separating the globe. In reality, along with wars and economic transformations, technology is one of the most important variables in determining international relations. It is still the most important weapon for achieving economic growth and national security. Throughout the past, technological advancements came with the industrialization, which brought in the contemporary international system. Because of that, we have compiled a list of ten ways that nations put technology to use in international relations.

Gathering information

For many governments, institutions, organizations and politicians a large amount of information is key to understanding, as well as controlling the surroundings. The emergence of Big Data, the large-scale software of data analysis to a broad array of growingly quantifiable components of human civilization (social, economic, political, and so on) in terms of understanding activities and improve decision-making and forecasting, is among the most major challenges that could affect future studies. While Big Data offer the possibility to improve many areas of human life, it also exposes civilization to emerging threats (for example privacy, transparency, human rights etc.). The access to data, whether directly or through involvement of private firms, opens up new possibilities and obstacles for economic analysis (methodology; data protection).

Social media as a news outlet

The Arab Spring is a prime example which proved that we live in a very globalized world connected through social media. Citizens from the Middle East were using Twitter and Facebook in order to showcase their dissatisfaction and protest against their governments. Not only that this helped foreign officers and diplomats try to help and take matters in their own hands, but also, there was no need of potentially biased news outlets since there was an abundance of tweets and posts covering current events.

Social media as an advertising tool

It has become extremely easy for politicians to spread their propaganda through social media without having to pay large sums of money for marketing purposes. This also means that a broader audience can be reached through a simplified process, which requires a small investment of funds and time. Furthermore, it is not unusual for certain human rights violations to pop-up on people’s social media, which is great, since it shows that the work of certain activists has paid off. Even in a globalized world, there are certain issues that remain hidden and making sure that they are noticed by someone might be the only path to change.

Simplifying daily work and study activities

It is well known that technological advancements such as the Internet give a new definition to research and analysis. In the past, students, researchers, and academics were required to spend a lot of time in libraries in order to find relevant sources of information. Nowadays, those tasks can be done with just a few taps or clicks on mobile phones and computer screens. Additionally, high-end technology allows professionals in these fields fulfill their daily activities quickly and effectively, which in turn leaves them the freedom to use the remaining time for other important matters.

Technological advancements as a way of acquiring political power and boosting reputation

Producing, implementing, and understanding technological advances boosts a state’s reputation and international projection. It is a valuable asset which confers prestige. Throughout history, countries that have obtained or invented the most advanced instruments were able to demonstrate their superiority to other countries during many wars or colonization processes. For example, during the sixteenth century, the fast development of transportation equipment presented European governments with capabilities in terms of facilitating their colonial foreign operations against the opposition of mostly coastal traders. With the help of considerably better rifles, artillery, and new medicinal discoveries to combat tropical diseases, they were able to conquer many areas.

Helping less developed nations improve

It is well-known that while in some parts of the world people are able to live a modernized lifestyle enriched by technology, in other parts water and food are viewed as luxury. There is an abundance of diplomats, activist, philanthropists, volunteers and politicians that make efforts to make the necessary changes in order to offer aid. In most of these cases, technology is put to good use with the intention to speed up this process. Additionally, it is not unusual to see that groups or individuals have received tools that might help them lead a better life. It usually depends, however, air pollution, malnourishment, lack of health-care, environmental catastrophes and global warming are just a part of the issues that require the use of technology for obtaining solutions.

Fighting against cybercrimes

Furthermore, technological modernization can be used to help less developed countries, but it can also be a tool which ensures security. Especially since technology is utilized to closely monitor individuals, as well as research on them and gather data. For example, a contemporary issue that is presented to the world are cybercrimes which are a form of aggressive technical warfare.

Communication tool

In the perplexing position of autonomy and interdependence, isolation and togetherness, nationalism and globalism, modern international relations started to develop. They continued to evolve as both a cooperative and competitive dynamic. This shows that it is inevitable for nations to communicate among each other. Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War is usually considered as the fundamental book of international affairs. It is among the oldest and finest written sources of all history which explain the struggles of diplomats during those times. Throughout history, being a diplomat meant being a person that travelled days, if not months just to distribute one simple message containing certain information. Luckily, today’s technology solves these issues and people can communicate by sending and receiving calls and messages in the matter of seconds.

To boost economy

New technologies have the potential to significantly enhance a country economically and, as a result, increase worldwide prominence. They could also equip a nation with military benefits or even put it in a dominant position. So, whoever innovates or produces technological goods, also determines the principles and criteria they represent.

Verbal communication and languages

In the past, diplomats were required to speak multiple languages in order to be able to understand each other. Nowadays, technology allows them to rely on a certain software that would translate their thoughts in a matter of seconds. This means that diplomats can engage in conferences, summits, governmental, financial, cultural, and social discussions without delay due to a wide array of applications.

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About the author

Antonela Jaki

Antonela Jaki is a Political Science graduate and the former President of the Student Assembly at the University American College Skopje. Having graduated with a Magna Cum Laude degree in International Relations and Diplomacy, Antonela specializes in Balkan and Middle Eastern politics, Sustainable Development and International Organizations.