Thursday, July 8, 2021

New Think Tank Focusing on Intersection of Foreign Policy & Tech

Purdue University's Purdue Research Foundation (PRF) has just launched a new "tech tank" that is being billed as the US's first think tank focused on the intersection of technology and diplomacy.

The Center for Tech Diplomacy's (CTDP) primary focus will be on technologies that are critical to American foreign policy, such as 5G, artificial intelligence, semiconductors, energy, digital health, digital currency, cybersecurity, autonomy, and global supply chains, according to a press release, which notes that CTDP will collaborate with like-minded countries and with the private sector to advocate for a global tech agenda that "reflects freedom, democracy, and human rights" in multilateral organizations.

Dr. Mung Chiang, Executive Vice President and John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering at Purdue University will be CTDP's Founding Director.  In 2019-20, he served a one-year appointment at the State Department as the Science and Technology Advisor to then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Dr. David Reingold, Justin S. Morrill Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Purdue University, is the Co-director of the think tank. 

Mr. Keith Krach, who served as Undersecretary of State in the Trump Administration, is the think tank's Chairman.  Krach founded Ariba and served as DocuSign Chairman and CEO for 10 years.  He was also Chairman of the Board of Angie's List.  He is reportedly a single-digit billionaire.

Others on the board include: Former Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN); 3 Points Partners Managing Director Marc Carlson; Foundation Capital Co-Founder and General Partner William Elmore; Cold Canyon AI Founder and CEO Daniel Goldin; and Stephens Inc. EVP Mary Kissel, who was a senior advisor to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Initial senior fellows include: Former Indian Ambassador to the EU Rajendra Abhyankar; Managing Director of Fannon Global Advisors and CSIS Senior Advisor Frank Fannon; Predata Co-founder Jim Shinn, and former Assistant Secretary of State Manisha Singh.

CTDP will host an inaugural event focusing on the global semiconductor supply chain on September 22, 2021. The event will feature a keynote speech from Patrick Gelsinger, CEO of Intel, and roundtables with chief technology officers from major semiconductor companies across the world and leaders from the US government and Congress. The bi-coastal event will take place in Silicon Valley and Washington, DC, while kicking off virtually from West Lafayette, Indiana.

Two additional launch events are scheduled for October, one focusing on US-EU-UK-Japan collaboration in technology research and development and another launching a year-long study on 6G global roadmap.

In parallel with the July 7 launch of CTDP, Dr. Chiang wrote a piece entitled "The Era of 'Tech Diplomacy' is Here."  CTDP's new website can be found here; its YouTube page is here.

Here are some thoughts on the new think tank from Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, who is also Chairman of PRF.

CTDP is one of the many university-affiliated think tanks in the US.  Other notable examples of university think tanks include Stanford University's Hoover Institution and Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.

CTDP is also one of a number of think tank or think tank-like entities focusing on technology.  One example is the Center for Data Innovation, which runs the AI Policy Network.  Another is the Center for AI and Digital Policy.

According to the latest University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, the US currently has 2,203 think tanks.