Jovan Kurbalija - History of Diplomacy and Technology

Diplomacy and technology: from smoke signals to artificial intelligence with Dr. Jovan Kurbalija


Founder and Executive Director of Diplo Foundation, Dr. Jovan Kurbalija, takes us on a journey from the past to the present and across civilizations to explore the interplay of technology and diplomacy.

Diplomacy and technology are at the heart of Diplo’s mission. Dr. Kurbalija emphasizes the importance of writing as a diplomatic tool and begins by telling us the story in the Sumerian poem “Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta”, recounting how Enmerkar invents writing on clay tablets to relieve the messenger of having to remember the increasing number of messages with which he is charged.

Jovan talks about the similarity of the Ancient Egyptian Amarna letters to today’s diplomatic notes, the advanced messaging system of the Persians at the time of Cyrus the Great, how the Romans and Byzantines concealed information, the advances in technology during the Renaissance period and he highlights the themes of continuity and change all the way to present day. He also speaks about the impact of social media, AI, and our need to remain open to embracing technology in a smart way.


Jovan Kurbalija, Executive Director, Diplo


Host and Producer: Amy Smith

Editing and social media designs: Mengna Chen

Recorded & produced at the United Nations Library & Archives Geneva