Around the Institute

Google Ideas’ Jared Cohen on Diplomacy in the Digital Age

July 25, 2013

The Aspen Institute Socrates Program, which is known for its weekend seminars and one-day salons for emerging leaders, held its annual benefit dinner recently, featuring Google Ideas Founder and Director Jared Cohen in conversation with Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson. The discussion, titled “Breaking Borders in the Digital Age,” explored Cohen’s observations about how technology plays a role in international diplomacy and geopolitics. He spoke of his on-the-ground experiences traveling in Iran.

Cohen, a Rhodes Scholar who names Condoleezza Rice as one of his mentors, managed to get a visa to travel to Iran while he was in graduate school. While there, he researched the impact of technology on politics, interviewing Hezbollah fighters and traveling to Syria and other parts of the Middle East. Following his stint abroad, he took his skills set to the US State Department.

Below, Cohen speaks about the “huge blind spot” the US government faced in the mid-to-late 2000s, back when words such as “Google” and “Facebook” were not taken seriously in diplomatic settings:


Later in the conversation, Cohen offers his views on the keys to a successful career. He advises the up-and-coming leaders in the room to avoid planning their futures and instead follow their passions:


The Aspen Institute Socrates Program provides a forum for emerging leaders (approximately ages 28-45) from various professions to convene and explore contemporary issues through expert-moderated dialogue. Click here for more information about the Program.