Tools and Weapons with Brad Smith

U.S. Ambassador Nate Fick: Choosing a radio over a rifle in combat

Episode Summary

As the United States’ first Ambassador-at-Large for Cyberspace and Digital Policy, Nathaniel Fick is leading a tech-centered global diplomatic mission. Nate brings extraordinary depth to this important role in contemporary foreign policy – not as a career diplomat, but from a wide range of experiences: a Classics graduate from Dartmouth, a Marine leader in Afghanistan and Iraq, a venture capitalist, and a CEO for a cybersecurity firm. As we kick off 2024, we discuss his priorities for the year ahead, why he'd always choose his radio over his rifle, the parallels between philosophy and AI policy, and an inspiring call for each of us to find time for national service.

Episode Notes

As the United States’ first Ambassador-at-Large for Cyberspace and Digital Policy, Nathaniel Fick is leading a tech-centered global diplomatic mission. Nate brings extraordinary depth to this important role in contemporary foreign policy – not as a career diplomat, but from a wide range of experiences: a Classics graduate from Dartmouth, a Marine leader in Afghanistan and Iraq, a venture capitalist, and a CEO for a cybersecurity firm.

As we kick off 2024, we discuss his priorities for the year ahead, why he'd always choose his radio over his rifle, the parallels between philosophy and AI policy, and an inspiring call for each of us to find time for national service.

Click here for the full transcript.

Episode Transcription

Brad Smith: I am Brad Smith, and this is Tools and Weapons. On this podcast, I'm sharing conversations with leaders who are at the intersection of the promise and the peril of the digital age. We'll explore technology's role in the world as we look for new solutions for society's biggest challenges.

Nate Fick: Marc Andreessen famously said that software's eating the world, and I would say that technology is eating foreign policy now. You can't practice any form of bilateral or multilateral or functional diplomacy on any issue from human rights to climate to arms control without tech being an important part of it.

Brad Smith: That's Nate Fick. The United States' first Ambassador-at-Large for Cyberspace and Digital Policy, but Nate isn't leading a global diplomatic mission after a long career in the Foreign Service. Instead, he comes to the State Department with a fascinating array of prior experience, including as a Dartmouth Classics major who became a Marine platoon commander in Afghanistan post-911. Leaving the military with the mission itch he needed to scratch, Nate dove into cybersecurity first as a venture capitalist and later as a tech CEO.

In this episode, Nate and I talk about the list of issues that are top of mind for him, the State Department, and the world, facing technology as we start a new year. We discuss how he's helping diplomats become more tech-savvy. He shares how he looks at threading the needle between innovation and safety through AI governance, and he explains why, in his days as Marine on the front lines of Afghanistan and Iraq, he would always choose his radio over his rifle. To hear more conversations like this one, I invite you to follow or subscribe to the podcast wherever you're listening now.

My conversation with Ambassador Nate Fick, up next on Tools and Weapons. Ambassador Fick, Nate, thank you for joining me today. You're roughly in the 15th or 16th month of your tenure as the United States' first Ambassador-at-Large for cyberspace and digital policy, not a small remit. But it's a new year. It's 2024. What are you looking ahead to? What are you and your team thinking on behalf of the United States as the biggest goals that you need to advance in the next 12 months?

 Nate Fick: Sure, Brad. First of all, thanks for having me. I'm a fan of Tools and Weapons. It's fun to be on the podcast. I'm about 15 or 16 months into the job. And as you say, it's a new year. I can find my way to the cafeteria at the State Department on my own. So we've built the team. We have a basic agenda kind of accomplished and underway. And if I look ahead to the year before us, I think there are three or four things that we're going to be focused on. One of them, of course, is AI governance.

I think we got a strong start in 2023 with the voluntary commitments and the work of the G7 and the UN and the executive order. But that's obviously a whole technology area that's unfolding so rapidly, and it really is incumbent upon democracies to prove that they can work with companies and developers to put some sort of governance framework around this technology that makes sense. So that's one big line of effort.

I think a second one is really ensuring that the United States remains engaged in the multilateral fora that matter most for technology, norm-setting, principle development, that we really come to the table substantively, concretely in all of these fora. And then third, we have to build capacity in our own organization. That's really been one of my real priorities in the year gone by is trying to build a cadre of more tech-fluent and tech-savvy diplomats and making sure we push that capability out to the edge that we have it in our embassies and missions around the world.

Brad Smith: Let's take the first two of those to start with, the AI governance and multilateral fora because, I think, in part, AI governance is being advanced through these various multilateral discussions. I know you, in your position, you travel the world. You were in New York in September for the UN General Assembly meeting. You were at the AI Safety Summit. We crossed paths in the UK in November.

The first real multilateral effort to bring, I think, it was 28 governments together to put a stake in the ground around AI safety and AI governance. I think people are starting the new year sort of wondering how this will come together. From a US government perspective, what are you most hoping to see come out of these kinds of conversations?

 Nate Fick: Yeah. Look, we're all prisoners to some extent of our own experience, right? It's part of the human condition. And my last formative dozen years or so was building and leading a software business. I have a lot of conviction in the power of the US innovation economy.

And so I think, and we think, and you see that in the way that the US government started with voluntary commitments, we believe we need to ensure that our innovative advantage, preserving, stewarding, safeguarding, encouraging our innovation advantage remains our North Star. Yes, guardrails are important.

Yes, risk mitigation is important, but the most essential thing is ensuring that we can continue to enjoy the benefits of the innovation economy that has been built over a period of many decades in the United States. And also as a corollary, encouraging that kind of innovative ecosystem in our like-minded democratic allies and partners.

Brad Smith: As you engage with those like-minded democratic allies and partners, and they're focused on safety, they're focused on innovation, what are you hearing most from them? Is it similar to what the US is speaking for? Are there differences? How do you think about how you synthesize similarities and differences in this space?

 Nate Fick: Yeah. I think, look, I've been... like you I've probably been to three dozen countries in the year gone by and have had the benefit of firsthand conversations with digital ministers and innovation ministers and ambassadors and heads of state in all of them, and almost everybody around the world wants to develop a knowledge economy, wants to develop an innovation economy, and people see the transformative power of entrepreneurship at the national level, also at the individual level.

And they also see that tech innovation as a source of national power and influence in the world is increasingly foundational. That a lot of the traditional measures of strength that we talk about, things like GDP or military capacity, they're increasingly downstream of a nation or society, a coalition's ability to innovate in these core technology areas. So people are hungry for this tech. They're hungry for the good that it can do addressing global problems.

But they are also, for good reason, concerned about the risks, concerned about the negative ramifications, and they often reflect back to us that the US policies in previous generations of technology have not always been the sorts of policies that even our close allies and partners agree with. So I think the subtext in what we're doing in AI is trying to telegraph that while we intend to keep innovation as the North Star, we're also not going to take quite the laissez-faire approach that we took in some earlier periods in history.

Brad Smith: Yeah. I see that all the time. In fact, if there's one thing I encounter repeatedly, it's government officials around the world, including in Washington DC, who say, "We're not going to repeat the mistakes that we believe we made with social media, namely doing nothing while the technology raced ahead and had consequences that were both good and bad.

And we're certainly not going to let the tech sector do in the 2020s what some companies said they wanted to do a decade ago, namely move fast and break things." They want, especially with technology that's so consequential, to build the guardrails that, in effect, ensure the innovation car remains on the road. And I think that's probably something that you hear a lot very specifically about as well if I had to guess.

 Nate Fick: Absolutely. And look, like so many things in life, right, the right path is somewhere between the polls. You've got the total techno-libertarian utopian poll that is not going to be a galvanizing rallying cry if we're going to build a real coalition here. But at the same time, you've got plenty of parts of the world that have taken the sort of regulatory approach that is basically guaranteed that their GDP growth is going to be not especially impressive compared to the United States.

So we need to thread a needle here. And I mean, these conversations are intrinsically multi-stakeholder. They are recognizing that governments can't do it alone. At the same time, companies can't do it alone. Civil society organizations need to be part of the discussion. So I think that has been generally the framework that we've adopted, and I think we're going to continue that in 2024.

Brad Smith: One of the things, Nate, that I find fascinating is compared to the conversations a decade ago that I had at Microsoft, that you might've had in the private sector leading a tech business is not only the conversations around issues like cybersecurity, which were important 10 years ago, or just think about digital innovation more broadly, intellectual property and the like. But with AI, I find some very thoughtful government leaders actually talking about philosophy. What does this technology mean about what it means to be human, about what technology should do for humans, what it means for humans to be in control of it?

And your point, you put it, we're all prisoners of our own experience. I think we're all beneficiaries of our own experience at the same time. And one of the things I've always loved about talking with you from the very first time we met you bring not only this educational background that combines government and business, but you're one of the few people I know who has degrees in government, business, and the Classics, your undergraduate degree at Dartmouth back at the end of the last century. Do you find there are days when you put that background to use as well in your current role?

 Nate Fick: Absolutely. I think a degree of stoicism, if I can channel Marcus Aurelius, is good for any government official. There are daily frustrations that require one to stay on an even keel. But look, a common thread for me across military leadership or nonprofit leadership or a startup business or a big public company or government service is that all these organizations are made up of people. And so the human element is consistent.

And I think actually the Classics are a good early training ground for just appreciating the commonality across experiences, the commonality across perspectives. And to be specific about it, in my current seat, I think it's essential that we have government officials who have some commercial sensibility. We need business leaders who are public-minded. We need civil society leaders who are pragmatic. And with that kind of collection of folks, I have a high degree of confidence in our ability to devise and then execute the right kind of policies.

Brad Smith: And one of the things I find fascinating is the way you just put it. It's important to have an even keel. And one of the amazing things about AI you also captured, I cannot recall a technology issue that has unleashed such an extraordinarily broad range of reactions.

There are days even in the media where we read reports and we hear statements from people that range from, "This is going to save the planet to this is going to kill us all." Are there things, as you listen to all of this, as you read what people are writing that you think others are getting wrong that we need to help everybody get right?

 Nate Fick: First of all, a good philosophical principle, in my view, is the good days are not as good as they seem, and the bad days are not as bad. So you sort of shave off the highs and the lows, and I would apply that too to both the champions and the critics of any technology. So start with that.

And then I think we have to discount a little bit the cases where people are patently talking their own book, whatever their book happens to be. And if you start with those two principles, you'd sort of zero in on a slightly more modulated set of conversations, right, where the most utopian highs and the most dire lows are kind of cast to the side, and that leaves you in, I think, a more reasonable space.

Brad Smith: What I also think is interesting and worth touching upon in this conversation is your own personal experience over time. When you think about the modulating between highs and lows, first, you graduated from Dartmouth, you joined the American military, and, as you said, it was a peacetime military.

You were stationed, as I recall, in Australia, and you were in a bar drinking a beer in the evening in Australia when it was morning in New York on September 11th, 2001. The world changed. I think by the next day, you were on a plane. Tell us where that took you and what that experience was like.

 Nate Fick: One of the things I found in college, Brad, was that I think this is true at a lot of American universities, there's a huge funneling effect where kids come in with a million interests, and they leave on very few paths by and large. And I wasn't interested at that point in investment banking or management consulting or going to med school or one of the more well-worn paths.

And so that's how I ended up as a Marine Corps infantry officer in the late '90s. And yes, I was training an Australian army unit to do peacekeeping operations in East Timor on 9/11. Before the sun came up the next morning, we were on our way to the North Arabian Sea. And then, I had really what turned out to be the great privilege of leading one of the first American units in Afghanistan and in Pakistan after 9/11.

And I think we who were wearing the uniform and were forward-deployed at that point had all the same feelings that most people had, the anger, the fear, the uncertainty, but we felt like the privileged few who were in a position to do something about it. And so I, in my early 20s, had that privilege of leading young Americans in Afghanistan right after 9/11. We served again in Iraq about a year later. And it really was kind of the defining, probably the defining experience in my life was that experience of leading young Marines in combat in the first half of my 20s.

Brad Smith: You started your career with the US government as part of the Department of Defense. You're currently spending this chapter of your career with the US government in the Department of State. Are there things that you learned from that military tour of duty that have contributed to how you think about the role of diplomacy?

 Nate Fick: Without a doubt, and I've had the opportunity to go back into government at different points in my career. This was not only the right moment but the right role. And for me, I'm incredibly proud to be at the Department of State. I think that in my 20s, I lived some of the consequences of failures of diplomacy, and I don't mean at the level of the working diplomat, but really at the policy level. And I just emerged from that. Look, I was one of the lucky ones who walked away physically and more or less psychologically intact. Many of my friends and comrades did not.

And I just have a visceral belief, a conviction that diplomacy is and must be the nation's tool of first resort. It is how we should engage with the world first and foremost. And there's a very real role for military power, but diplomacy comes first. And in the Marines, we used to talk about the last a hundred yards. And you feel in combat like you're at the tip of the spear sometimes where you have this huge institution behind you, you know, trillions of dollars and millions of people and all this equipment, but it all comes down to a few, in my case, guys with guns on a bridge in the middle of the night someplace. And in diplomacy, Secretary Blinken talks about an analogue, which I love, and he calls it the last three feet.

And it's the same idea. You have the history, the power, the infrastructure of the US government, but it all narrows to a point, and it's a person generally shaking a hand across the table with another person in the last three feet. And so there's a real analog there. Another just quick aside. I was asked once about my time in Afghanistan what the most valuable tools we had were, and I think in the course of the conversation I said that, "If I were forced to give up my rifle or give up my radio, I'd give up the rifle and keep the radio," because that communications link to the outside world was really how I brought most of our firepower and capability to bear. And I think that kind of experience does leave you with a really kind of a sense in your gut of the importance of communications.

Brad Smith: And it is fascinating because I think that is so interwoven with where we started this conversation, these international conversations around the world about something like artificial intelligence. And fundamentally, it doesn't matter whether you're leading a platoon in the Marines, a section, a new bureau in the State Department, a company, so much of leadership is about communications.

 Nate Fick: I had a board chair who used to tell me that CEO... Well, he would tell me, in my case, CEO stood for current executive officer. I think that was just a way to motivate me to do more. But his great lesson to me was that CEO stands for chief explaining officer. And I do think that's right. I think it's incumbent on leaders in every organization to communicate, communicate. It's human organizations are most effective when you have shared context when people need to understand collectively what we're trying to do. And people learn and absorb that message in different ways.

Some people hear it. Some people need to see it. So something that I try to do is repeat the main themes, say them, follow up in writing, and really try to put an emphasis on building shared context. We had a concept in the Marines called commander's intent, which basically boiled down to, you should tell people what to do, don't tell them how to do it, right? So communicate a sense of what we're trying to accomplish. And then, if you have the right people, their creativity and ingenuity is probably going to find a far better path to accomplish that objective than you would see on your own.

Brad Smith: The other thing that I think this connects to is something as you and I have talked in the past or just having read about your experiences and how you memorialize them is you are somebody who not just explains what you think, you base your conclusions on what you observe and what you listen to as well. How did you develop that, including as a young Marine officer?

 Nate Fick: I think that one of the convictions that I walked away with, again from this formative experience of leading people under very adverse, dire, life-or-death kind of conditions, is that a consensus about what you're doing is not enough. You actually need a durable consensus, a consensus that is going to hold on your worst day. And that really does require a lot of communication. It requires building a real sense of cohesiveness and shared purpose in an organization.

I'm a big fan of the book Drive, Daniel Pink's book, and he distills a lot of social science research into these three things that people want in a workplace or in a role, in an experience. Generally, people want mastery or the opportunity to develop mastery. They want some degree of autonomy, right? The ability to not have their boss mucking around in every decision they make. And they want a sense of purpose. And I actually think those principles apply in diplomacy. They apply in how we interact with partners around the world.

They apply to how we interact with companies or civil society organizations. Again, back to the point that the one thing that the US government, the European Union, Microsoft, and Access Now all have in common is we're all made up of people. And so I think that playing to some of those commonalities of human experiences is an important thing in these jobs where you have to cut across and build consensus among very diverse groups.

Brad Smith: One of the just fascinating things, Nate, I think about your career is there is this roughly 20-year interval where you went from being a young Marine to being a senior diplomat, but in between, about halfway in between, you also had another role that is not typically in that career trajectory. It was called being a CEO of a tech company, the cybersecurity software company Endgame. Let's start with, how did you get from a Marine in Afghanistan to a software company CEO?

 Nate Fick: Well, I think the generalizable point here, Brad, is that careers only make sense in hindsight, right. And as you're looking, things may seem like they build naturally looking backwards, but I think for most of us, as we're going forward through our lives, we feel a little bit like we're grasping in the dark. So it definitely felt that way for me. I left the Marines after a couple of combat tours because I was going to get rotated into a desk job for my next assignment, and that's not why I joined the Marines. So I felt like my generation of Marines, by just timing and circumstance, had more operational experience than anybody before us since Vietnam.

And so, if I had 10 lives to live, I would spend one as a career Marine officer. But given that I had one, I wanted to go do something else. I liked building and leading teams in the military. I wanted to find a way to keep doing that in the rest of my life. And I went to business school, and frankly, I did it in a way to tread water and decompress and figure out which direction was up after a tumultuous few years in the Marines. And while I was there, I met some good friends, many of whom had come out of the venture capital world and were going back to venture. And my building and leading teams experience in the Marines, I felt like, might be something I could bring to that world.

So Bessemer Venture Partners is a firm based in California that was interested in building a security tech roadmap and making some investments in technologies and companies that may have some national security applications. I liked cybersecurity because it still scratched that mission itch that I had in the Marines. And so I ended up as an operating partner at Bessemer, and I knew very little about technology businesses, but I knew a lot about building and leading teams. And Bessemer had a company that had a good product and product market fit but didn't have the leadership team in place to scale to the next level. So I got parachuted in, and what was supposed to be a two or three-year exercise kind of turned into a 10-year labor of love.

Brad Smith: Are there any lasting lessons from that labor of love? The company was Endgame. I know it was eventually acquired in 2019 by Elastic NV, where you stayed for the next two or three years to lead their information security business globally. What have you taken away from call it that decade of work that you find most applicable to the work you're doing today?

 Nate Fick: My first desk at Endgame was an old door on two sawhorses. So it was a real startup experience and a bit of a turnaround. We sort of had to restart the business. We sunset the initial product. We had to build some new products, opened offices, closed offices, raised repeated rounds of capital. We bought some businesses, we divested a business. We sold our services business to Accenture in 2016. And then ultimately, as you said, we sold the software products business, and it became Elastic Security, which then I led for several years and loved every minute of it.

I think that I really developed a visceral appreciation for the fact that so many of these critical technologies that we all depend upon are and will continue to be built by companies. And this isn't the 1960s where government R&D is funding massive innovation that's having trickle-down benefits in the private economy. It's quite the reverse. The engine of US capitalism, of global capitalism, the engine of our innovation economy, the bulk of the talent, also the attack surface we care most about protecting, these things are in the private sector.

And so if we're going to maximize the full potential of these technologies, we need to do the things that I think you've spent a large portion of your recent career doing, which is ensuring that we can find ways for companies and governments to work constructively together here. We need it. I was leading Endgame through the Snowden revelations, through the war in Iraq, part of the war in Iraq. I mean some very divisive times that highlighted the differences between Washington and Silicon Valley, between the government and the technology world, all of the encryption debates. And I was leading a security company through all of that and walked away really believing that we had to do better.

Brad Smith: I'd like to maybe connect the dots from that to where we started. You mentioned at the outset you have three goals right now for 2024 for your bureau at the State Department. There's AI governance, there's multilateral diplomacy, and there's capability building.

When I think about your career, you've spent so much time, quite successfully, developing capabilities for you and the teams you have led. Now you're doing something literally on a global scale for the State Department. Tell us about the capabilities you are seeking to bring to US government when it comes to cyberspace and digital policy.

 Nate Fick: So, Brad, I'm a political appointee. Whether I do this for two years or four years or six years, whatever it is, people in roles like mine are inherently and, by design, short-termers. And so I think that the most important thing that I, and we, as the founding team of this new organization at State, can do, the most essential thing is to institutionalize it, to build capacity in the State Department to ensure that we have a cadre of diplomats in the United States for the next generation who will become kind of self-propagating and will ensure that we have real expertise on these topics, not only in Washington, but out where the work happens at all of our missions around the world. So that's fundamentally what we're focused on.

We designed a new training course at the Foreign Service Institute, which is the school in Arlington, Virginia, where American diplomats get trained. And we've offered our course four times this year, and we'll offer it four times in the year ahead, and that will get us basically to our objective of having a trained person in every mission around the world. We've done a bunch of other things too. I'll give you just a couple of examples. We set up an award to recognize excellent achievement in tech diplomacy, and it's open to every member of the civil service at State, every member of our Foreign Service, and all of our locally employed staff at embassies around the world. The people who are nationals of the country where the embassy is located, who are so important to our mission. Anybody can be nominated, and it comes with a meaningful cash award and a handshake with the Secretary and real recognition.

So really trying to attract people to this mission. And the last point that I would mention here, I said in my Senate confirmation hearing that I could imagine a world where every credible candidate to be a chief of mission, that is an ambassador out in the world representing the United States, every credible candidate for those jobs has a demonstrated knowledge of and belief in the importance of these technologies. And that language has been already now inserted into the selection criteria for American ambassadors globally. So it's a lot of small things, but in the aggregate, my conviction and our hope is that it adds up to enduring institutionalization.

Brad Smith: And when you're thinking about it, especially sort of the first few rounds of these award-winners, what are the attributes that you most want to recognize?

 Nate Fick: I'll give you a concrete example. I chair the selection committee, and we just selected and announced our initial winner of the Keith Krach Technology Diplomacy Award. Keith, you may know as CEO and chairman at DocuSign and the former Undersecretary of State. And we selected a terrific foreign service officer who was serving at our embassy in Tirana, Albania when Albania was hit with quite a sophisticated cyberattack attributed to Iran.

And this young officer, through the incisiveness and the speed and the precision of his reporting back to Washington, really almost single-handedly accelerated our response. He, hand-in-hand with the serving ambassador there at the time, set the table for the US to respond in a comprehensive way to a NATO ally who was under attack. And that work helped us demonstrate the importance of the NATO alliance. It helped us reinforce global norms about State behavior in cyberspace, and we're thrilled that we were able to recognize him for it.

Brad Smith: Well, that is a great example. I know it well myself because, just by coincidence, and I was recently sitting next to the Prime Minister of Albania at a meeting in Paris, where he turned to me and remarked about the role that the US government had played and the role that coincidentally Microsoft had played in sending people over to be in the front line, the trenches together as he put it.

I think as he said, he expected people to help during the day and sort of go back to their homes if one was a diplomat for the United States or their hotel if they were a Microsoft employee when the evening arrived. And instead, he found that people were in the trenches together with the people for the government of Albania, restoring the internet for its population.

 Nate Fick: Well, on that point, I remember landing in Tirana shortly after the attacks, and one of the first conversations I had in the hotel lobby was with a member of the Microsoft Incident Response team that was there, and he and I went over in the corner and sat down, and he gave me a good laydown of the situation. And so we were able from day one to present really a unified position with the Albanian government. And it's a shining example of what good partnership looks like.

Brad Smith: So if you take that experience and then that award and the attributes that you obviously recognized in that award, which I can see included agility, decisiveness, creativity, how, if at all, can you connect those back to what you're offering for the fortunate folks who are in your training courses in Arlington? What are you exposing them to? What are you asking them to develop in terms of their capabilities?

 Nate Fick: Yeah, it's a very interesting question, and I make a point of speaking to every class, and one of the points that I lead with is that we're not trying to turn them into software engineers or data scientists. We want them because they are diplomats, and we need them to channel their diplomatic experience and their diplomatic skill to these issues. So really the overarching point here is cultural change inside the organization. It cannot be okay as a senior leader anywhere in the world right now to throw up your hands and say, "I don't really understand this tech stuff. My granddaughter works with me on my iPad," right? That's not okay. Nobody in the State Department throws up their hands and says, "I don't understand this China stuff."

So we can't say, "I don't understand this tech stuff." We need to make it accessible. It's incumbent upon us to make these topics, to make cybersecurity and digital policy and emerging tech accessible, and to reassure people who are in our course that we're not trying to turn them into engineers. We want them as diplomats. And after kind of level setting that way, then we go through the fundamentals in these core technology areas. We go through the body of international law that's relevant and the human rights principles that undergird so much of what we do. And then, we talk about real-world examples, and we make sure they get exposure to companies and to civil society organizations over the duration of the course.

Brad Smith: I know there are people who are listening who are diplomats who work in the US or other governments. But I also know there are people who work in business, who work in civil society, who aren't working for a government, but are working with people in government on precisely these issues. Any last words of advice for all of the people who, for the moment, are attending the Nate Fick School of Cyber-Diplomacy?

 Nate Fick: Well, Marc Andreessen famously said that software's eating the world. And I would say that technology is eating foreign policy now. You can't practice any form of bilateral or multilateral or functional diplomacy on any issue from human rights to climate to arms control without tech being an important part of it.

And so, to restate something I think I alluded to earlier, we need public-minded executives, and we need government officials with some commercial sensibility. And I guess I would close just with a call to service that, whether it's the US government or another government, I would encourage people over the course of their careers to make a little bit of time to give back and spend on these things because I think it's determinative in terms of what the next century's going to look like.

Brad Smith: And I might just add two thoughts myself, Nate, that I think complement the points you just made. First, if technology is eating at diplomacy, and I completely agree it is, diplomacy's also eating at technology because the future of technology is being defined, not just by technologists and people in tech companies, but by governments around the world interacting with each other in the world of diplomacy.

And then the one other thought, and I so appreciate, I should just say, I so appreciate what you are doing, dedicating this part of your career to serving public service by being in the public sector. And then I will just add, and for those who care about the public space, the good of the world, there is an opportunity for everyone to contribute something in the form of public service, even if they're not in the public sector by, I think, bringing the kind of broad-minded perspective that you have just shared with us, not just for this conversation, but every part of your career.

 Nate Fick: Brad, thank you. Honored to be here and have this conversation and very appreciative more broadly for your partnership and your thought-leadership over a long period of time that predates my stint in government service, so thank you.

Brad Smith: Well, thank you. I look forward to seeing you at the next multilateral technology Diplomatic meetings somewhere in the world. I'll turn around, and you and your team will be there, representing the United States focused on the good of the world. Thank you, Nate.

 Nate Fick: Thank you, Brad.

Brad Smith: You've been listening to Tools and Weapons with me, Brad Smith. If you enjoyed today's show, please follow us wherever you like to listen. Our executive producers are Carol Ann Browne and Aaron Thiese. This episode of Tools and Weapons was produced by Corina Hernandez and Jordan Rothlein. This podcast is edited and mixed by Jennie Cataldo with production support by Sam Kirkpatrick at Run Studios. Original music by Angular Wave Research. Tools and Weapons is the production of Microsoft, made in partnership with Listen.