The development of digital technology is impacting our societies and professional fields. It is expected that the technology sector will continue to rapidly, possibly exponentially, develop in the coming years. This trend will have deep consequences in virtually every area of society.
Peacemaking has traditionally been considered a ‘low tech’ field in which inter-personal skills, savoir-faire, and emotional intelligence are considered to represent the most important attributes of a good mediator. At the same time, the field is evolving and needs to adjust to changing social contexts, which is increasingly impacted by digital technology.
Against this background, the UN Department of Political Affairs, DiploFoundation, the Geneva Internet Platform, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, swisspeace, and researchers from Harvard University have established a consortium tasked to explore how digital technology affects mediation in preventing and resolving violent conflicts. The initiative was launched on 13 March 2018, in Geneva.
The objectives of the #Cybermediation initiative are to:
The initiative focuses on four thematic areas in detail:
DiploFoundation and the Geneva Internet Platform are coordinating the activities of the thematic working groups on big data and artificial intelligence.
The exponential growth of data in modern society brings new opportunities for better informed mediation. This working group will focus on the relevance of digital data to, for example, better understand positions and public sentiments in preparation for mediation. At the same time, it will look into some of the main challenges of using new types of data, related to the reliance on the private sector, the quality of data, as well as privacy, security, and ethical considerations.
The field of artificial intelligence (AI) advances at a fast pace, and AI tools are increasingly used in various domains. Some of these tools could be used to facilitate and support mediation activities, such as machine translation systems and text-mining applications. There is also considerable research being done on whether AI could be used to automate certain negotiation functions (the so-called ‘autonomous negotiating agents’). This group will look at existing AI tools and their possible applications in mediation activities, while also exploring the potential role of automated and autonomous negotiation systems in mediation efforts.
DiploFoundation and the Geneva Internet Platform will conduct research and organise regular meetings (online and offline) to improve our understanding of the impact of these technologies on mediation. We will raise monthly questions about big data and AI for an online discussion about these topics.
Interested in joining the working groups on big data and AI? Send an e-mail to Barbara Rosen Jacobson at firstname.lastname@example.org.