Every Single Cognitive Bias in One Infographic

At its essence, diplomacy is about understanding human behavior–and the mental mistakes we make must be understand to get a holistic picture. Information is power–but is easily diluted or misdirected.


Here’s all 188 cognitive biases in existence, grouped by how they impact our thoughts and actions. We also give some specific cognitive bias examples.

Source: Every Single Cognitive Bias in One Infographic

Meet Bradford Smith, the “Tech World’s Envoy”

A lawyer that you can like–and other compliments abound for this corporate leader who combines policy knowledge with negotiation skills.  Bradford Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, plays a key role on both coasts and around the glob–much like a diplomat-in-chief for tech interests.

Coalition building isn’t just for diplomats:

And in the fall of 2013, Mr. Smith and Erika Rottenberg, the general counsel of LinkedIn, the social media company, organized a meeting of general counsels from a half dozen or so major technology companies to talk about further unifying their efforts to press for government change. The meeting, in a private dining room of a restaurant in Palo Alto, Calif., eventually led to the formation of the Reform Government Surveillance coalition, which counts Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Microsoft and LinkedIn as members.

“He’s good glue for those kinds of groups because of his policy skills and general intelligence,” Bruce Sewell, the general counsel of Apple, said of Mr. Smith.

via Microsoft’s Top Lawyer Is the Tech World’s Envoy – NYTimes.com.

The Need to Care | Why the N.S.A. Matters

Germany is pulling back from its ally and Brazil threatens to creates its own internet.  What are you going conclude about the N.S.A. spying allegations?

Several U.S. senators suggest the following:

As members of the Intelligence Committee, we strongly disagree with this approach. We had already proposed our own, bipartisan surveillance reform legislation, the Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act, which we have sponsored with a number of other senators. Our bill would prohibit the government from conducting warrantless “backdoor searches” of Americans’ communications — including emails, text messages and Internet use — under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It would also create a “constitutional advocate” to present an opposing view when the F.I.S.C. is considering major questions of law or constitutional interpretation.

And this Op-Doc video makes the case.

Edward Snowden has ignited a debate, and for that I am grateful. But now that he’s done his part, it’s time for all Americans to decide how to respond to his revelations. That is to say, it is no longer his story. It is ours.

via ‘Why Care About the N.S.A.?’ – NYTimes.com.


Defending the Actions of Snowden?

As Fareed Zakaria noted on his CNN GPS program today, smart people are starting to make that case that Snowden’s leaks have served U.S. national interests, moving to a more “multi-polar internet” as one commentator notes.

Most national security professionals still don’t agree, but this may be a change in the dominant view.  Edward Luce’s main arguments:

  • “Snowden reminds us there is more at stake over America’s sprawling data intelligence complex than hunting terrorists.”
  • “Nowadays anyone can download enough classified information to construct Tolstoyan epics about US espionage. Here too, Mr Snowden’s actions have been helpful.”
  • Obama now has the reason to reform the national security system, to repair the post 9/11 overcorrection.

To sum up, Luce notes that America’s soft power is taking a relative hit over these NSA spy leaks, and the US President has a chance to change the view of US power, from its “coming to stand for Big Brother” to an emphasis on the positive aspects.

via Edward Snowden has done us all a favour – even Barack Obama – FT.com.

Booklist: A Preview of Schmidt & Cohen, The New Digital Age

A series of early interviews on NPR this week are setting the stage for a new book from Google’s CEO and former State Department technology guru who works for Google’s in-house think tank. They explore the promise and limits of information–and implications for the Arab Spring, repressive regimes, and the changing role of nation-sates.

Schmidt: “The power of information is underrated. When we went to North Korea, we felt that if there was any way we could help get that country on the right track, [it] would be to get a little bit of Internet into the country. In many countries, the Internet is the only way to get an alternative point of view in, and the Internets arrival could destabilize some of these autocratic regimes, who we believe will fight it. They cant completely shut it off, because the Internet is too important for their business and their other goals, so a little bit of Internet in there will bring some openness and some ideas to every single country.”Countries that have the Internet already are not going to turn it off. And so the power of freedom, the power of ideas will spread, and it will change those societies in very dramatic ways. North Korea is the last stop. Its the one country thats never had the Internet, where its been blocked — in my view, very harshly — by the government. All they have to do is turn it on a little bit, and they cant turn it back. Once the ideas are in, you cannot kick them out of the country.

via Interview: Eric Schmidt And Jared Cohen, Authors Of The New Digital Age : All Tech Considered : NPR.

Alec Ross Signs Out, Will Digital Diplomacy Grow?

The notion of tech innovation and Foggy Bottom might seem like two entirely different spheres–but thanks to @AlecJRoss the latest generation of ambassadors and foreign policy implementers are more aware of how social media, internet freedom and online tools play an important role in 21st century diplomacy.

Ross always rejected the idea that innovation was about specific tools such as Twitter or Facebook. He would often say “There’s no such thing as a Twitter revolution,” insisting that social media is simply a vehicle revolutionaries can use to organize and spread their ideas and plans.

“It’s really about how do you conduct diplomacy beyond formal interactions between nation states,” he told The Cable.

via Tech guru Alec Ross leaves the State Department | The Cable.

And because diplomacy is occurring in new and interesting ways on a person-to-person and person-to-group level across social networks Ross made the contribution to integrate understanding of the power of social media across the organization. Josh Rogin quotes Ross in The Cable: “I don’t want this to be viewed as another slice of the pie, but rather a part of every diplomat’s work. I want 21st-century statecraft to just be ‘statecraft.'”

These interviews on big think and Brookings, respectively, give you a little more info on the power of social media in the recent US elections as well as the strategy behind integrating it into eDiplomacy. And this was the first story (NYT Magazine) I recall about him that gives you a better insight into his career path from T4A to State’s Policy Planning Staff.

U.S. Demands Chinese Block Cyberattacks

National Security Advisor Tom Donilon demanded in a speech yesterday that China put a stop to the theft of U.S. firms’ data through cyberattacks. This is the first time that a U.S. official has specifically named China in regards to cybercrime. A cyber security firm recently released information that attacks were coming from an area in China that is home to a large cyberunit of the People’s Liberation Army, information which lines up with the U.S.’s own data on the attacks, making it difficult for the U.S. to not deal with this problem directly. This comes at a complicated time for U.S.-Chinese relations as the U.S. is seeking the diplomatic help of the Chinese government in negotiations with an increasingly hostile North Korea.

Although not fully addressed by the article, the theft of U.S. firms’ data brings up the issue of intellectual property rights and the ease of the dissemination of information during this technological age. It has become increasingly difficult for companies, governments, and individuals to protect their intellectual property, and developing countries (read: China) view the international organizations in charge of protecting those rights, such as WIPO, as biased towards the wealthy, developed countries (read: U.S.). Although the announcement came as a demand, one of the things the U.S. wants China to do is to work together to help establish a set of rules to act as a global standard on cyberspace protocol in order to alleviate these problems.

The White House, Mr. Donilon said, is seeking three things from Beijing: public recognition of the urgency of the problem; a commitment to crack down on hackers in China; and an agreement to take part in a dialogue to establish global standards.

Via U.S. Demands Chinese Block Cyberattacks – NYT.com

What result will come from the U.S. calling out China on this issue remains to be seen.