Director Jānis Sārts: “The Riga StratCom Dialogue 2017 brought together policy-makers, academics and practitioners, creating a wide-ranging discussion on how rapid changes in communication are affecting all sectors of our global society. In an age of social media and instant information, strategic communication has become increasingly important. Technology is shaping our environment more rapidly than ever before, thus changing lives from the individual level to the core functioning of states. The information environment has allowed our adversaries to circulate their narratives globally in a very short amount of time. Therefore, we have to be informed and ready to be proactive.”
There is nothing shocking, or new, about countries trying to influence each other’s political decision making. Yet, in the last few years adversaries have taken the opportunity provided by new technology to directly influence public opinion and democratic processes in an unprecedented way. Such interventions have hit right at the heart of society, undermining the relationship between the government and the citizens it serves, and creating political dilemmas that cannot be solved by any one governmental department alone.
The conference was opened by the Presidents of Estonia and Latvia, H.E. Ms Kersti Kaljulaid and H.E. Mr Raimonds Vejonis. Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania H.E. Mr Linas Linkevicius, Assistant Secretary General for NATO Public Diplomacy Tacan Ildem, and Executive Director of UK Government Communications Alex Aiken also participated in a discussion on the politics of strategic communication.
A panel featuring adviser on public diplomacy Matthew Armstrong, BILD political editor Julian Röpcke, as well as Jed Willard from Harvard College and Miriam Lexmann from the International Republican Institute analysed which responses have been most successful at countering Russian influence activities.
A panel on countering violent extremism featured Heydah executive director H.E. Mr Maqsoud Kruse, Professor of Psychiatry Dr Anne Speckhard, Professor Hassan Abbas, and Head of GLOBESEC Defence and Security Programme Dr Kacper Rekawek. Moreover, another discussion examined how machine learning and sensor technologies are changing the power structures between corporations, governments, and electorates. Best-selling book author Dr Christopher Kutarna, worldwide authority on computer security Mikko Hyppönen, Labour Economist at OECD Dr Andrea Salvatori and futurist Jason Schenker engaged with the question of how society and mankind will adapt to the pace of technological change.