Career envoy Casper Klynge has assimilated into the world of Silicon Valley, living in Palo Alto and managing his team of 20 who are dispersed across northern California, Copenhagen, and Beijing, similar to many chief executives of tech startups.
Except Klynge is a Danish diplomat who took up the post as the world’s first “tech ambassador” in August 2017. The idea for the role was actually borne out of a brainstorming session involving his younger colleagues who were searching for a new and exciting way for the Danish government to interact with the world.
“Diplomacy has always been about putting people into hot spots or at the center of transformation. And in today’s world, the epicenter is Silicon Valley, Seoul, and Shenzhen,” he said.
‘It has actually changed the narrative’
“If you ask people on the streets of Copenhagen, ‘How do you look at a digitally driven economy? How do you look at a technology-driven future?’ they will be slightly less positive and less optimistic than they were two years ago, because of the leaks of personal data that we’ve seen the last couple of years. So I think in that sense, it’s a more mature discussion we’re having today,” he said.
“If you want me to be a little less diplomatic, I think the honeymoon is over. Very few people today would say that these companies that are not too far away from where we’re sitting right now, that they only work for the better good of humanity, that they’re just neutral platforms, that they’re they’re just bringing technology that connects people. I think that was how we saw it two, three, four, five years ago. Today, we have a better understanding that there are fantastic opportunities, fantastic aspects of new technology. But there’s also a dark side that we need to be very, very attentive to and make sure it doesn’t break our democracies and that it doesn’t hurt you and me,” he added.
“We also want to make sure that we can convey messages to the companies about the necessity to protect consumers, or to protect your personal data that is indeed your personal data and cannot be sold off to third parties without your consent. We will see governments but also civil society, media, but also ordinary citizens increasingly holding companies to account and therefore it’s also commercially a good idea to collaborate with governments that are interested in steering in the right way in a balanced way forward on technology,” he said.
Melody Hahm is a senior correspondent at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and culture. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.‘ data-reactid=”45″>Melody Hahm is a senior correspondent at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and culture. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.