At the Intersection of Technology and Foreign Policy

Dr. Mung Chiang launched America’s first ‘tech tank’ in 2021. Dr. Chiang is the founding director of the Center for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue—an independent think tank at the intersection of technology and U.S. foreign policy.

Vanguard and Visionary, Dr. Mung Chiang

Dr. Chiang currently serves as the Executive Vice President and John Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering at Purdue University’s after spending a year in the U.S. Department of State as the 6th Science and Technology Advisor to the Secretary of State. In this past role, Dr. Chiang provided vital expertise to the Department of State on the economic security of the nation’s global technology initiatives ranging from 5G wireless networks to cybersecurity and microelectronic chips. As Science and Technology Advisor, Dr. Chiang launched a department wide tech diplomacy working group engaging career diplomats. Dr. Chiang also launched regional technology offices around the world and the first cohort of diplomats has been deployed to like-minded nations. He also started a series of chief technology advisors’ roundtables on 5G networks and semiconductors.

Dr. Chiang began working with communication networks while he was a student in the late 90’s for he believed studying these networks was an essential intellectual pursuit for society. Dr. Chiang has won many awards related to his work in advancing technology. He became the 38th recipient of the Alan T. Waterman Award, the highest honor given to young scientists in the U.S., administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Science Board (NSB). He is the only researcher in the field of networking to receive the Waterman Award. Dr. Chiang is also a Guggenheim fellow and in 2020, he was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Inventors and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences.

Connecting Technology and Foreign Policy

After seeing the “growing and bipartisan appreciation for the intertwining of critical technology and foreign policy”, Dr. Chiang founded the Center for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue (CTDP). Dr. Chiang observed a lack of training material for foreign policy officials on cutting edge technology and how it affects nations, the economy, and national security. The mission of the ‘tech tank’ is to bring deep engineering expertise to foreign policy makers and to provide them technology training.

CTDP’s launch event on Diplomacy and the Semiconductors Supply Chain as part of the Concordia 2021 Annual Summit exemplified the crossing of technology and foreign policy. The United States is a major user of semiconductors, but the U.S.’s share of global semiconductor fabrication is only 12 percent. Being at the forefront of semiconductor technology is essential to be a leader in data revolution and the knowledge economy.

Values-Driven Technology Foreign Policy

Dr. Chang explained that “technology, just like nuclear science can be both good and bad. There is no reason why technology will automatically advance the values of human rights, democracy, the rule of law and human freedom and dignity.” Dr. Chiang explained that United States must lead in this effort and ensure authoritarian regimes are not harmfully leveraging technology. The CTDP is focused on values-driven diplomacy and educating global leaders on the proper use of new technology and the potential it can unlock. Universities like Purdue and engineers play an increasingly important role in educating decisions-makers.

“The Center for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue sees 21st century diplomacy as being uniquely driven by technology capabilities, which should advance freedom, democracy, and human rights, as well as U.S. national security and prosperity.” Technology can help grow knowledge and jobs together if America stays at the forefront. The CTDP will give diplomats much needed training on new technology to make sure America is leading in the technology sector globally and the state of Indiana and the United States will benefit greatly from Dr. Chiang and the Center for Tech Diplomacy’s endeavors.