Transatlantic Digital Debates

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Time to Talk: Transatlantic Digital Debates

Time to Talk: Transatlantic Digital Debates

Conny Dörfler, in the team of the ARD Chairman at Bayerischer Rundfunk for the next two years, talks to Nunatak about the Transatlantic Digital Debates, which we supported in 2017.

Conny, you participated in the Transatlantic Digital Debates. Can you tell us about what is debated there?

The two Global Public Policy Institute Think Tanks from Berlin and New America from Washington organize the Transatlantic Digital Debates together. Every year, a group of young people spends two weeks taking a closer look at the future of the digital society.

What was the professional background of your group?

Our group consisted of nine Germans and nine Americans from the fields of science, politics and the economy. We spoke to experts and practitioners from different areas in order to understand the challenges of digitalization for transatlantic relationships. In order to do so, two discussion phases took place in Germany and the USA, each lasting one week. The contributors we were able to talk to were extremely interesting. Even more exciting, however, was the networking effect with the other participants. It became clear to us all how fruitful it is when people from different cultures and professional backgrounds discuss with each other. I would also like to integrate this into my everyday work.

What did you find most fascinating during the two weeks?

Of course, I found the topics I also encounter in my everyday work particularly exciting. And this year, both in Germany and the USA, fake news was a huge topic. It was interesting for me to understand that the fake news itself is not the actual problem, as it is possible to “combat” this from a technological or editorial perspective. However, the underlying problem that certain social groups are receptive to such manipulation has not yet been solved. As such, we repeatedly discovered in our Transatlantic Digital Debates that things we observe in the digital world are often just a reflection of or a catalyst for social problems.

During our discussions, we also noticed that technologies do not fundamentally change human behavior, but that expectations change. Thanks to social media, for example, people have become used to the possibility of personalization and interaction and of fast feedback. They now also have these expectations of political processes. As a result, politics – just like companies – are faced with the challenge of completely rethinking the involvement of the “customer”.

During your week in the USA you also went to Austin, Texas – what impressed you most there?

Austin is not only a city with many start-ups. The city administration also wants to go digital. There is an innovation office in the City of Austin for this purpose. Working like an in-house consultancy, the Office of Innovation uses Design Thinking methods and looks for user-centric solutions and services that can improve the lives of the city inhabitants.
And it was the team from the city administration that impressed us most during our week in the USA! I can really recommend applying to participate in the Transatlantic Digital Debates. Not only because I took away many suggestions and ideas for my everyday work but also because of the interesting people you get to know in the program – a network I’m sure to benefit from for a long time to come!

It’s time to talk: Apply for Transatlantic Digital Debates 2017!

It’s time to talk: Apply for Transatlantic Digital Debates 2017!

The Nunatak Group supports this year’s round and is looking for applicants

In a digital world, personal exchange and communication is more important than ever. The consequences of a sitting U.S. president using Twitter as a key channel for communication show the risks of going digital-only. That’s just one among many reasons why The Nunatak Group supports the „Transatlantic Digital Debates 2017“ (TDD 2017), a dialogue program that will take place in early summer and autumn in the United States and Germany. During the two weeklong session, 18 participants (nine from each of the two countries) with backgrounds in business, the sciences, politics and civil society will be discussing the future of the digital economy, challenges to online privacy as well as the changing public sphere through social media.

The Transatlantic Digital Debates were established in 2016 through a joint initiative of the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) in Berlin and New America in Washington, DC, with support from the Transatlantic Program of the German Federal Government. The program aims to bring together young experts from both nations in various discussion formats to build a better understanding of future relevant topics on the transatlantic agenda. This year’s main focus will be on the new challenges in the automatization of our industries, artificial intelligence and algorithms as well as new cybersecurity developments. The discussions will be put into the context of the 2017 parliamentary elections in Germany and the political strategies of the Trump administration.

TDD 2017 consist of two parts: The program will take place in Berlin and Hamburg in early summer (May 28th-June 3rd) as well as in Washington, DC and Austin, TX in autumn (November 4th-11th). The focus of the debates in both capitals (Berlin and Washington, DC) will be on an active exchange with political decision-makers. The discussions in Hamburg and Austin will place a stronger attention on dialogue with tech companies. At this point, TDD 2017 is looking for applicants from both countries that are not older than 35, have a strong academic background and have at least three years of work experience. Those interested are asked to apply until March 19th. For further information about the application process, please visit:

Photos: GPPi


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