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Danish diplomat Casper Klynge has become the world’s first “techplomat”. The Danish government has tasked him with building ties between Denmark and Silicon Valley giants such as Facebook, Apple and Google—bypassing Washington DC. This is an explicit recognition of something that has been apparent for a few years now: today’s tech behemoths are global actors that wield as much or more influence, if in different ways, than many countries.
The current market value of these companies outstrips Denmark’s 2016 gross domestic product, after all. And there are less tangible signs of tech company influence as well, such as the brazenness with which Uber has taken on regulators across the US, the European Union and elsewhere—not to mention the global spotlight on co-founder Travis Kalanick’s travails and, now, resignation. Then there is the importance of partnering with tech companies to take on a more destructive breed of non-state actors—terrorist organizations.
Now it remains to be seen if Klynge is a one-off, or the first of the techplomats.