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Digital IR in the Information Age


To identify trends and developments in the world of technology and examine their implications for international relations.

The rate of technological change in today's society is poised to have far-reaching implications for the study and conduct of international relations. At the core of this “technological revolution” are a set of complex, compelling, and possibly troubling developments. Understanding the interplay between technological changes and international political developments will allow us to better grasp how the international system will be impacted as the information age matures.

LSE IDEAS has also produced primers intended to provide a clear and concise introduction to various topics pertaining to technology and IR (i.e. AI, digital statecraft, telecommunications). You will find them under their respective research cluster sub-sections.

Research Clusters

Digital Statecraft: A New Frontier in International Relations

Journal Article - Internet Shutdowns: A Human Rights Issue
January 2023

Working Paper - Against the Grain: The data regulatory regimes of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan vis-à-vis Russia, China, and Big Tech
September 2022

Commentary - A Conversation with Brazil's Cyber Diplomat
February 2022

In this commentary, Louise Marie Hurel discusses the present and future pathways for Brazil’s foreign policy on cybersecurity with Minister Marcelo Câmara.

Commentary - The Threat of Virtual Summitry to the G7's Success
August 2021

In this commentary, Dr Tristen Naylor examines the digitalisation of diplomacy and the threat virtual summitry poses to the G7. This commentary is based on an academic journal article titled ‘All That’s Lost: The Hollowing of Summit Diplomacy in a Socially Distanced World’, published in The Hague Journal of Diplomacy.

Strategic Update - Twitter and Digital Diplomacy: China and COVID-19
June 2021

In this Strategic Update, Professor Chris Alden and Kenddrick Chan investigate China's use of Twitter as a diplomatic instrument during the COVID-19 pandemic and what the implications are going forward.

Working Paper - Social media's impact on political discourse in South Africa 
June 2021

In this Working Paper, Dr. Sue Onslow explores how social media platforms have impacted political discourse in South Africa.

Book Review - 2034: A Novel of the Next World War
June 2021

In this book review, Kenddrick Chan reviews this geopolitical thriller that envisions how great power conflict will play out in the digital era of the near future.

Strategic Update - Making Sense of Technological Spheres of Influence
April 2020

In this Strategic Update, Valentin Weber explains how we have arrived at this novel geopolitical arrangement, where in the world the greatest contestation lies, and what the future of technospheres may hold.

Strategic Update - A Digital Geneva Convention? The Role of the Private Sector in Cybersecurity
May 2018

In this Strategic Update, Raquel Vázquez Llorente explores what role the private sector should play in the global policy response, with companies on the 'front line' of the cyber threat often being more proactive than states. 

Strategic Update - Victors and Victims: Creating a Military for the Digital Age
February 2018

In this Strategic Update, General Sir Richard Barrons sets out 8 principles for how to create an effective military for the digital age. 

Strategic Update - The Laws of War and Cyberspace: On the Need for a Treaty Concerning Cyber Conflict
June 2014

In this Strategic Update, Benjamin Mueller examines the militarisation of cyberspace and considers ways to prevent the Internet from turning into a battlefield.


Global Connectivity: Communications Infrastructure and Networks

Strategic Update - China's Digital Silk Road in Indonesia: Progress and implications

 This Strategic Update discusses the progress of China’s Digital Silk Road in Indonesia, a major destination, in both its hard and soft aspects, as well as the potential impact of its implementation. Chinese companies are offering a response to Indonesia’s needs, but concerns exist, especially surrounding security and surveillance, that Indonesia’s increasing reliance on China could also further erode its democracy.

Subject Primer - The Infrastructures of Global Connectivity: 5G Networks

This primer outlines what 5G telecommunication networks are, how they function, and what the relevant policy considerations are, given ongoing debates.

Working Paper - Assessing China’s Digital Silk Road: Huawei’s engagement in Nigeria
November 2021

 In this Working Paper, Nils Hungerland and Kenddrick Chan examine the implication of Huawei's engagement in Nigeria and its implications for the wider Chinese Digital Silk Road initiative.

Data and AI: Tech Ecosystems and the Digital Economy

Subject Primer: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Data in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Forthcoming

This primer outlines what artificial intelligence and machine learning is, what its limits are, and why 'big data' might or might not be the new oil as we head for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Strategic Update - Power Dynamics in an Era of Big Data
March 2019

In this Strategic Update, Stacy Langworthy investigates a force under-explored and under-theorised in the world of International Relations and policy making: big data. Who can hold it? Who can harness it? What can it do?

Journal Article - Let Them Eat Cyberspace: Africa, the G8 and the digital divide
December 2003

In this journal article from the early 2000s, Professor Chris Alden challenges the dubious assumptions within the G8's attempts to bridge the digital divide between the industrialised North and the South and the implications for global governance.

Events and Podcasts

Upcoming Events

China's Media Influence in Africa
Thursday 19th January 2pm

Focusing on Africa, the event will discuss and evaluate the findings of the recent Freedom House report on the CCP’s tactics to shape the global media environment, including cyber operations and targeted disinformation campaigns from local, regional and global perspectives.

Read more about the event and register

Recordings of Past Events

Chain sq

The US, China and the Global Race to Dominate Blockchain and Crypto Technologies
Tuesday 22 February 2022

With growing state interests in ‘blockchain’ and ‘cryptocurrency’, the panel discusses the capabilities and potential uses of these technologies for domestic and foreign policy.

Electronic Chip sq

Cyber Norms: transnational efforts to regulate cyberspace
Thursday 10 February 2022

The digital domain is now an increasingly significant geopolitical battleground for numerous countries. Regulating their behaviour via cyber norms is therefore of paramount importance. Kaja Ciglic, Senior Director of Digital Diplomacy at Microsoft, will discuss Microsoft’s work on issues related to international peace and stability to advance trust in the digital domain.

Amit Sheniak

Cyber-Policy in the Middle East: origins and current trends
Wednesday 24 November 2021

This LSE IDEAS webinar with Amit Sheniak explores the origins, current trends, and the future of cyber-policy in the region.

Clare Melford

Bankrolling Bigotry
Tuesday 9 November 2021

The financial incentives to create polarising and divisive content online have generated a tsunami of hate and division. Breaking the business model is the key to reclaiming our information space. Catch up on our webinar with Clare Melford, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Global Disinformation Index.

 

 

Meet the Team

Kenddrick Chan is the Head of the Digital IR Project, and Research Associate at LSE IDEAS.

Julia Ryng is the Digital IR Project Researcher.

Guillemette Guicherd is the Digitial IR Project Coordinator.

Professor Chris Alden is advisor to the Digital IR Project. He is Director of LSE IDEAS and Professor of International Relations at the LSE.

Dr Zulfikar Rakhmat is the Digital IR Project Associate.

Working With Us

We are always interested in hearing from researchers who are working in areas related to the Digital IR project. If you are interested in collaborating, email j.c.alden@lse.ac.uk.

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Contact us

Email

LSE IDEAS ideas@lse.ac.uk

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LSE IDEAS, Floor 9, Pankhurst House, 1 Clement's Inn, London, WC2A 2AZ