AI-Powered Diplomacy: The New Frontier of Soft Power for Emerging Economies

In an increasingly developing digital era, soft power plays an increasingly important role in shaping global influence.

Authors: Tuhu Nugraha and Annanias Shinta D*

In an increasingly developing digital era, soft power plays an increasingly important role in shaping global influence. One of the latest tools that developing countries can leverage to enhance their soft power is Large Language Models (LLM). With this technology, developing countries have the opportunity not only to compete in the field of technology but also to strengthen their position on the international stage through economic aspects, cultural and identity representation, as well as defense and security.

Large Language Models (LLM) are artificial intelligence designed to understand and generate text in human language. These models are trained using vast amounts of text data from various sources, enabling them to understand context, answer questions, and engage in conversations in a manner very similar to humans. LLMs are crucial in AI as they open up new possibilities in task automation, natural language processing, and more advanced human-machine interactions.

LLM and AI can become a new form of soft power in this digital era. Soft power is a concept in international relations that refers to the ability of a country to influence other countries or international actors through attraction and persuasion, rather than coercion or military force. Soft power focuses on non-coercive ways to influence, such as culture, values, ideology, and appealing foreign policies.

The concept of soft power was first introduced by Joseph Nye, an American political scientist, in the late 1980s. Nye explained that soft power is “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payment.” In the modern context, soft power is becoming increasingly important due to globalization and growing international connectivity. Countries use soft power to build alliances, influence global public opinion, and achieve their strategic goals without using hard military or economic power.

Economic Aspect: Driving Innovation and Growth

The development of LLM can significantly impact the economy of developing countries. LLM can increase productivity and efficiency across various sectors through more advanced automation and data analysis. For instance, in the e-commerce and digital marketing sectors, LLM can be used to personalize customer experiences and enhance the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. This not only drives local business growth but also attracts foreign investment. Moreover, having their own LLM can reduce dependence on foreign technology, which is often expensive and not always tailored to local needs. By developing this technology independently, developing countries can save costs and maximize the use of local resources. A thriving AI industry ecosystem can also create new jobs and foster further innovation, enhancing the country’s economic competitiveness on the global stage.

However, reliance on global LLMs such as OpenAI and Google’s Gemini can bring several drawbacks. First, the cost of accessing technology from global providers is often high, which can be a financial burden for developing countries. Second, these technologies may not always be tailored to the local context and needs, reducing their effectiveness in addressing the specific problems faced by these countries. Third, dependence on foreign technology also poses data security risks, as sensitive data may need to be stored or processed abroad, increasing the risk of data breaches and privacy violations. Furthermore, the dominance of technology by global companies can hinder the development of local technology industries, reducing opportunities for innovation and domestic business growth. Therefore, the development of local LLM is not only important for cost savings and tailoring technology to local needs but also for maintaining data sovereignty, fostering domestic industry growth, and strengthening the country’s position in the global economic landscape.

Cultural and Identity Representation: Preserving and Strengthening Local Values

LLM also plays a crucial role in preserving and promoting national culture and identity. By training these models using local data, developing countries can ensure that their languages, dialects, and cultural content are well-represented. This is essential for maintaining linguistic diversity and cultural heritage, which are often overlooked in models developed in other countries. Additionally, local LLMs can help reduce cultural bias that might exist in foreign-made models. With more accurate and fair representation, LLMs can promote a better understanding of the values and social norms prevailing in the country. This is not only important for preserving national identity but also for strengthening pride and unity among the people.

However, relying on global LLMs like OpenAI and Google’s Gemini has several negative impacts, including the risk of losing local culture and language. Foreign-made models often do not take into account the richness and uniqueness of local languages and dialects, causing these languages to be marginalized or even become extinct if not supported by relevant technology. When global models are more widely used, there is a tendency for cultural homogenization where global values and norms dominate, overshadowing local identity. This can lead to cultural erosion, where younger generations become more exposed to and influenced by foreign cultures, reducing their appreciation for their cultural heritage.

Additionally, dependence on global LLMs can deepen the digital divide. Developing countries might not have full access to these advanced technologies due to high costs or restricted access policies. This can hinder local innovation and reinforce the technological dominance of developed countries. Therefore, developing local LLMs is not just about technology but also about maintaining and strengthening national culture and identity. By ensuring that local languages and cultures are well-represented in AI technology, developing countries can protect their heritage, reduce cultural bias, and foster stronger national pride.

Nonetheless, local and global LLMs can coexist to build local identity and global understanding. With the right collaboration, global LLMs can be enriched with local data, allowing them to better understand and represent cultural richness and local values. On the other hand, local LLMs can benefit from the technology and innovation brought by global models, expanding their reach and impact. This integration can create a more inclusive and representative AI ecosystem, where local identity is preserved while also strengthening intercultural relationships and understanding at the global level. Through this balanced approach, developing countries can play a more active role in global conversations while continuing to preserve and promote their cultural heritage.

Defense and Security: Enhancing National Resilience

Defense and security are other strong reasons why developing countries should consider developing their LLMs. By having full control over this technology, countries can ensure that sensitive data and national security strategies are not exposed to foreign entities that might have different agendas. LLMs can be used to enhance cybersecurity by detecting and responding to threats more quickly and efficiently. Additionally, LLMs can be used for intelligence analysis, helping governments make better decisions based on accurate data.

In the context of ideological resilience, developing local LLMs is crucial to protect the country from potential foreign propaganda that could threaten social and political stability. Global AI and LLMs that are not entirely under national control can be exploited by external parties to spread disinformation and propaganda, which is one of the trends in modern psychological warfare. By having their own LLMs, countries can ensure that the narratives and information disseminated to the public align with national values and interests.

Local LLMs can also be used to effectively combat disinformation and propaganda. With the ability to understand local context and culture, LLMs can filter out potentially harmful information and disseminate accurate and reliable information. This is important for maintaining public trust and ensuring that the public receives truthful and relevant information. Furthermore, in information warfare, local LLMs can serve as tools to identify and counter negative narratives spread by foreign parties, helping maintain national stability and security.

Thus, developing local LLMs is not only important for cybersecurity and intelligence analysis but also as a strategic tool in maintaining ideological resilience and protecting the public from increasingly sophisticated psychological warfare threats. Having independently developed LLMs enables developing countries to control information flow, maintain data sovereignty, and strengthen national security and stability in the digital era.


The development of LLMs holds significant potential for enhancing the soft power of developing countries. From an economic perspective, this technology can drive sustainable innovation and growth. From a cultural and identity perspective, LLMs can preserve and promote local values. From a defense and security standpoint, this technology can enhance national resilience. By strategically utilizing LLMs, developing countries can strengthen their position on the global stage, demonstrating that they are not only consumers of technology but also innovative and competitive producers.

As a soft power tool, LLMs offer great opportunities for economic, social, and political transformation that can bring long-term benefits to developing countries worldwide. However, the development of LLMs also faces many challenges, including the need for adequate technological infrastructure, skilled human resources, and significant development costs. Strong infrastructure is required to support intensive data processing and computing, while skilled human resources are essential for designing, training, and maintaining LLMs. High development costs can also be a barrier, especially for countries with limited resources.

Therefore, it is important for developing countries to adopt an integrated and collaborative approach, both with the private sector and international institutions, to overcome these challenges. With the right strategy, LLM development can become a key pillar in strengthening soft power and achieving sustainable progress.

*Annanias Shinta D,  Passionate professional with a strong background in research, communication, and business management. Experienced in collaborating with public and private companies, as well as NGOs, to drive positive change and create a better future.

Tuhu Nugraha
Tuhu Nugraha
Digital Business & Metaverse Expert Principal of Indonesia Applied Economy & Regulatory Network (IADERN)