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Disruptive Power: The Crisis of the State in the Digital Age

March 24, 2015 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Location: Brown Institute for Media Innovation
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Anonymous. WikiLeaks. The Syrian Electronic Army. Edward Snowden. Bitcoin. The Arab Spring. Digital communication technologies have thrust the calculus of global political power into a period of unprecedented complexity.  In every aspect of international affairs, digitally enabled actors are changing the way the world works, and disrupting the institutions that once held a monopoly on power.  No area is immune: Humanitarianism, War, Diplomacy, Finance, Activism, or Journalism.  In each, the government departments, international organizations and corporations who for a century were in charge, are being challenged by a new breed of international actor.  Online, networked and decentralized, these new actors are innovating, for both good and ill, in the austere world of foreign policy. They are representative of a wide range of 21st century global actors and a new form of 21st century power: disruptive power.

In his new book, Disruptive Power, Taylor Owen provides a sweeping look at the way that digital technologies are shaking up the workings of the institutions that have traditionally controlled international affairs. What is it that makes for successful digital international action?  What are the tools being used by the actors increasingly controlling international affairs?  How does their rise change the way we understand and act in the world?  What constitutes effective online international action? What are the negative consequences of a radically decentralized international system? What new institutions will be needed to moderate the new power structures and ensure accountability. And how can governments and corporations act to promote positive behavior in a world of disruptive innovation?

Taylor will present the foundations of his research and his findings, followed by a panel discussion.  The panel will comprise:

Elmira Bayrasli | @endeavoringE
Entrepreneur and Author of the forthcoming book, From The Other Side of the World: Extraordinary Entrepreneurs, Unlikely Places

Eben Moglen |
Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and founding director of the Software Freedom Law Center

Carne Ross | @carneross
Executive Director of Independent Diplomat, the non-profit diplomatic advisory group, and author

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