• I see it’s 10 after 12:00, so why don’t we go ahead and get started? It is my great privilege to welcome everyone to today’s event, which fortunately, we are able to host Minister Tang from Taiwan, who’s joined us today.

  • I should note today’s event is being not only held in-person, but it’s also being live streamed. Actually, what you see up here is the minister has very kindly set up as part of the live streaming the opportunity to ask questions, submit questions online.

  • Either please scan the barcode or go to slido.com and have your questions coming in during the presentation. At the end, when we open up to Q&A, we’ll take some of those questions online. My name is Professor Ben Hopkins.

  • I’m the director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies. We are the university’s center for Asian studies. We have a long-lasting and close relationship with TECRO and great interest in Taiwan. It’s a great privilege today to welcome you all to one of our annual Taiwan events.

  • That’s really all I have to say, except to introduce Deepa Ollapally, who is today’s moderator, and will introduce the minister herself, so Deepa.

  • Good morning, everyone, or good afternoon. I’m really honored to be able to do the introduction for Minister Audrey Tang. When I was looking at her bio, there’s so many things that one could talk about.

  • The first word that came to my mind was, "Wow." Here’s somebody who has that wow factor, if I may. Minister Tang is the first Digital Minister of Taiwan, and I would say one of Asia’s most innovative and exciting thought leaders and activists on governance and the use of digital space for that.

  • Minister Tang serves on the Taiwan National Development Council’s Open Data Committee, the K through 12 curriculum committee, and she also led Taiwan’s first e-rulemaking project. Minister Tang works on a variety of consulting with Apple, works with Oxford University Press on crowd lexicography, and with social text on social interaction design.

  • Also, actively still contributes to gov-zero...

  • A vibrant community, with the call to “fork the government,” and I wanted to make sure I didn’t mispronounce that word.

  • (laughter)

  • Careful to say that. Let me just a few things about Minister Tang that I found particularly interesting. Minister Tang started her work with computers at a very early age. I think the first thing that she did was create an educational game for minister’s younger brother.

  • Also showed, I think, a lot of personal courage, because at 15, left school with the blessings of the head teachers, and went on to start a company, many companies along the way. At the ripe old age of 33, I think, decided to retire from private sector and focus on the public sector.

  • Really want to do what the minister has called deliberative democracy, to start that kind of a movement on that. Finally, in 2016, when the minister was asked to be the first Digital Minister and join the government, apparently, she was asked to a write a job description.

  • I happened to read the job description online. It was a poem, which was, I think, very innovative, very inspirational, very intelligent, and kind of irreverent and fun. I have a feeling that those words probably describe the minister herself, personally and professionally.

  • With that, I would invite you to come up. Just one small thing I just also wanted to mention that I haven’t. If you look around the room, there are some very interesting photographs that TECRO has kindly brought with them.

  • These are in the back, on these easels in the back. Some of them have photos of the minister as well, engaging in dialog between US and Taiwan on things that some of you may know about, the GCTF, and so forth, which has been at the forefront of fighting fake news, which certainly in Washington, it would be very welcome.

  • Thank you. Thank you very much.

  • Thank you so much. Really a pleasure to be here to share with you some stories. I see that people online, even in the room, have already started asking questions. May I remind people to like each other’s questions?

  • The questions with the most number of likes flow to the top. Top questions get answered faster, like this one. "What does fork the government even mean?" In computer programming, fork means taking something that’s going to a direction and change its governance model by splitting the governance committee and developing it in the other way.

  • It doesn’t actually destroy the original work. It actually creates a copy. You hear it in Bitcoin, blockchain governance, in other ways that basically says, "Take something and run to a different direction," with the hope to merge in the future.

  • The g0v community does that professionally. g0v is a domain name that is literally is g0v.tw. For each of the government services that the g0v activist doesn’t like, or think the government should do, but haven’t been doing, the g0v activist does a shadow government website.

  • For example, the legislative is ly.gov.tw. Predictable, the shadow legislative in g0v is ly.g0v.tw. It solves the discover problem. You don’t have to Google search for anything. You just take an existing government website, change the O to a 0, and get to the shadow government.

  • The government that’s built by the g0v always relinquish copyright, so by the next procurement cycle, the government can just merge it back right in. I will show a few examples of the g0v project that became national websites and national services.

  • It’s a way to gently push the government by creating essentially a standby version, that is the fork of the service, that is with the intention to be merged back. Keep the questions coming, because we are now at zero questions. I’ll resume my ordinarily programmed slides, which is my talk.

  • Today, I would like to talk about the shared values in the US-Taiwan relations, and strengthening democracy through open governance. Now, just to begin things, when we talk about crowdsourcing or crowd collective intelligence and things like that, usually what we say is that it’s a consultation about a specific domestic matter.

  • Very rarely do we share the real agenda-setting power of what exactly are we going forward, why we’re going forward, the important priorities and so on, in an online way. Mostly, because of trolls. Now, in Taiwan, we’ve been perfecting the tool that is originally developed in San Francisco, I think, in Seattle, called Pol.is.

  • Pol.is is basically AI-moderated conversation that lets people resonate with each other’s statements without the possibility to troll. Just last week, actually, we launched with the AIT the first of its kind, a digital dialogue of how Taiwan’s role in the global community can be promoted.

  • We just crowdsource people’s ideas, and there’s zero trolls so far, just hundreds of very useful suggestions. If you go to talkto.ait.org.tw, you can see the system. The system, very simply put, is that when you get there, you see one statement from a fellow, for example, Dr. Kharis Templeman from Stanford.

  • You can either agree or disagree with that statement, but there’s no reply button. As you press agree or disagree, the next statement shows up. You can just press agree or disagree. As you do that, the avatar -- that’s the blue circle -- moves along the axis of different camps.

  • You can see how close you are to your social media friends and so on. It produces automatically a chart that lists the divisive statements, as well as the consensus statements. Now, most of the social media and the mainstream media over-focus on divisive statements.

  • Essentially, waste people’s time, because people are not going to agree overnight on the divisive statements. Actually, letting people have a reflective view of what people’s really consensus are gives us a pointer of which that we can say, "Most of people do agree on most of the things most of the time."

  • That enables the US-Taiwan relations to go forward, because by the end of each two-month cycle, the AIT will run a public forum that invites live experts and AIT personnel to discuss the top resonating statements, and how it may be integrated into the US-Taiwan relationship.

  • The four promotes is going to be the four topics the next eight months or so. I welcome everybody to participate. One of the most resonating statements colored red here is from Dr. Templeman here. I will just read it aloud.

  • "Taiwan is on the frontlines of global confrontation with authoritarianism. Taiwan can work with the US to promote our shared values of protection, of rule of law, freedom of speech, and assembly, religious tolerance and pluralism, and a voice of ordinary citizens in government."

  • I think this kind of system explains the part of voice of ordinary citizens in government. Of course, the other shared values are very important as well, especially that we’re really in front line, confronting authoritarianism.

  • This is from a website called a CIVICUS Monitor, where the human right activists use to monitor how free any given country are. It’s in the level of open or obstructive, repressed, to closed, based on how many human rights violations, or violations on freedom and speech and assembly incidents and so on.

  • As you can see in our part of the world, Taiwan is really the only place that can be called fully open, meaning that there’s no obstruction whatsoever on people’s freedom of speech and assembly. This is in direct contrast with a nearby jurisdiction, the PRC, which is evolving very quickly to a different direction.

  • I’ll just make a couple quick contrasts. For example, with the relationship between the state and the citizen, people have perhaps heard of the social credit system, that is coupled with a mandatory education app.

  • That is in the PRC. People are blocked of freedom of traveling, of assembly, and so on, because of their lack of conformation to the social credit system. Whereas in Taiwan, we use exactly the same Internet technology, but the other way around, we make the government transparent to the people.

  • This is the inaugural g0v project, actually. It starts as budget.g0v.tw, that shows an interactive chart of all the budget items in the national budget. People can drill down to each of the thousands of year-long projects and see all the KPIs, all the procurements made, all the different assessment that the National Development Council did and so on, and leave real-time commentary.

  • Now, while back in 2012, the commentary is mostly people chatting among themselves. Now, it’s part of the national regulation. In the e-participation center, join.gov.tw, not only you can see the budget, but you can also participate in the agenda-setting.

  • Once people comment on any piece of budget, the public, career public service, dedicated to just respond immediately without actually going through middle persons, like the MPs or the mainstream media.

  • That actually enabled the MPs and mainstream media to have a lot more open source intelligence and to work on top of that to give more good investigative reporting, and the public service doesn’t have to pick up 30 phone calls, one after another, asking about the same thing, essentially.

  • While there was initially some resistance, now, all the different ministries have adopted. You can see literally all our budgets there. Making the government transparent to the people, not the other way around.

  • Another contrast could be made between the state and the private sector, whereas as we understand that now, even in Hong Kong, but mostly in PRC, any company above a certain size need to have a CCP party branch.

  • Now, in Taiwan, it’s the other way around. Our regulatory co-creation system, or sandbox system, is designed so that instead of the party, the ruling party, or the state directing the direction of the companies, as those party branches are wont to do, we asked the companies to essentially break regulations and let us know about it.

  • The sandbox system is designed so that anyone can work with any municipality and say, "Hey, I want to experiment in platform economy, and AI-based banking, and self-driving vehicles, and whatever, that our regulators did not think about."

  • We agreed to not fine them, or punish them for a year, but in return, they must engage in open innovation, and share all the data and assessments with the wider public. By the end of the year, if the public thinks it’s a good idea, then it becomes regulation, basically.

  • If the public doesn’t think it’s a good idea, we thank the investors for paying the tuitions for everyone, and the next innovator need to start somewhere after that. This is basically having the social innovation leading regulatory innovation.

  • It’s pioneered in the UK with FinTech, but we’re now really using this model for pretty much everything. As Vice President Pence said last October, I believe, Taiwan’s embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people. Indeed, I would say, all the people.

  • On the other hand, this actually creates a contrast to the kind of legitimacy, or lack thereof, of the PRC, which is, I think, partly why the PRC have been aggressing lately. This background is an inside joke. It’s a censorship of a pretty harmless popular game called "Devotion" on the Steam gaming platform.

  • Just because the red seal there happened to contain the name of the president, Xi Jinping. That’s the only reason. Otherwise, it was a really harmless thing, but it got censored nevertheless. We see a lot of such kind of bravado, and all sort of different confrontations, and even flying the jets over the middle of the strait and things like that.

  • I think none of these are projection of power. None of these are power projections. They are projection of insecurity. Of course, Taiwan is not alone in facing such aggressions, especially around the [email protected] event.

  • We have many, many supporters coming from the US, and we launched a digital dialog. Even though, that the day we launched a digital dialog, there’s large-scale military action in our surroundings by the PRC.

  • I think that again shows the insecurity. In any case, we are very welcome our international like-minded countries in support of furthering our democracy. I will just say a couple things about protecting the security of our democracies that we’ve been developing in the past couple of years.

  • First, we’re securing our elections against foreign tampering. Tampering takes many, many forms. It could take forms of precision targeted advertisement over social media or regular media. This is actually something that we’ve seen worldwide, that people basically weaponize social media in order to influence elections.

  • I think that is also because Taiwan has one of the world’s most advanced campaign donation laws, the most transparent one, so that all the donation record is actually going to be released, I think, this June for the previous election in machine-readable format, essentially Excel spreadsheets and individual records, not just summaries and so on.

  • Because we’re that transparent, that means that people...Of course, only domestic people can donate to campaigns. People with other means of influence usually choose advertisements over campaign donations in order to support their candidates.

  • We’re changing our laws, quite a few laws. We introduced the equivalent of the Honest Ad Act here in Taiwan’s legal system. It’s currently in the parliament, going to be passed soon, that we hold campaign donations and advertisement over social or any other digital media to the same standard for radical transparency.

  • We’re making sure that any disinformation campaign, the narrative gets exposed, and we develop a notice, and public notice system, partnering with the E2E encrypted chat application vendor Line, in order to put digital accountability, so when people see us spreading disinformation, there is a counter-narrative showing in the same tab, in the same app.

  • That we attach such clarifications in real-time, a partnership with our civil society fact-checkers. In this, I think the US has played a really good role, a positive role, through the GCTF training framework.

  • I think I’m in that photo. That’s when we train the journalists in the Indo-Pacific region, not just bilaterally, but everybody in the region, about how to expose disinformation, how to basically communicate effectively when there is an information manipulation campaign.

  • The GEC, the Global Engagement Center, has also provided ample funding opportunity for the civic tech and other developers in the private and social sector to develop competent measures for this regard. We’re very grateful about that.

  • Of course, we’re also working on cyber security. You may have heard that just last week, we published the so-called blacklist of non-secure devices in the use in government properties and for government personnels, and people working in critical infrastructures.

  • This is actually just the latest of a progression of development. I remember around six years ago, when we were just deploying the 4G networks, there was a question from one of the telecommunication vendors, that whether they can use devices from the PRC.

  • Our National Security Council and the National Communications Commission at the time decided that while they are market players at that point, when there is escalation, everybody knows that in PRC, market actors become non-market actors through one means or another.

  • Because of that, during the 4G deployment, we said explicitly that nobody in critical infrastructure for communication infrastructure in 4G should use PRC components, market actor or otherwise. Of course, we continue this into 5G, and now, people are waking up to it.

  • We’re really happy that people are waking up to it. We, of course, again work closely with the US on automated indicator sharing and on US-CERT — that’s the Computer Emergency Rapid Response Team — and things like that.

  • We also share our training frameworks. Of course, protecting the facilities and institutions of democracy, the basic cyber security and election security, is really so that we can do innovation. The innovation that I am particularly in charge of is called open government.

  • The US, of course, is the founding member of the Open Government Partnership, currently at the fourth national action plan, from the Trump Administration. We use the same ideas of Open Government internally in Taiwan as well.

  • That is to say, to make the government transparent, participative, accountable, and also inclusive in the sense that we bring the technology to the space of people, rather than asking people to come to the space of technology.

  • Perhaps unique in the world, we establish what we call the Participation Officer Network. I think Italy is copying this network with their Minister of Direct Democracy. The idea is very simple. In every ministry, there is a team of people, just like officers talking with media or officers talking with the parliament.

  • There’s officers talking with emergent issues that are going to be networked collective action. Basically, we meet with the protestors before they actually go to the street. Maybe they just want an invitation to the kitchen, so to speak.

  • We co-create solutions on any and all emergent social, cross-ministerial, inter-agency issues. Indeed, my office is like 22 people. In Taiwan’s 32 ministries, I can poach, at most, one person from each ministry.

  • This is an entirely horizontal, cross-cutting, inter-agency, digital strategy. The PO network, extended network, is about 100 people strong in each and every ministry. Whenever there is a, for example, epetition and so on, we work on collaborative meetings that invites all the stakeholders together.

  • We, indeed, travel to the place. For example, this is Hengchun, the southmost of Taiwan, a popular tourism place. They petitioned. Many thousand people petitioned for the deployment of Blackhawk helicopters to their local airport to serve as ambulance cars, because they are 90 minutes away from any major hospital.

  • Diving accidents are sometimes fatal because of that. The Minister of Health and Welfare has said, "OK, we applied for a larger hospital, and the different deployment, but there is no funding from the NDC."

  • Maybe the NDC can consider working with the Minister of Transportation, and the Transportation said, "Building a faster highway, we are still evaluating on that. Maybe not this year. The budget’s just really not there. Maybe the Ministry of Interior can say something."

  • The Ministry of Interior says, "We don’t have extra Blackhawks in the Ministry of the Interior. Maybe Minister of Defense can say something," and so on. This is the usual shape of inter-agency things. Because of participation officers now, or the PO network, we have on the regulatory level, what we call the Ice Bucket Challenge Clause.

  • That says if an agency or ministry A think B should own it, and B thinks C should own it, and C thinks D, and D thinks A should own it, then I’m sorry, everybody travels to Hengchun. Everybody owns it. Seven ministries all traveled with me to Hengchun.

  • We met with all the local stakeholder, and using exactly the same live streaming or Slido, and so on, technologies to pinpoint exactly the common values across all those different positions. We understood finally that people want to trust their local clinicians more.

  • At that time, they don’t even have the place to serve as dormitory or to do training, things like that. We settled on a plan that is actually what we call Pareto improvement, that leaves nobody worse off, and improves people’s life generally.

  • Because it was live streamed, the legitimacy is really, really high. People can really see that all the different factions locally have, after summoning us to Hengchun, agreed on this solution. I talk with the premier.

  • Every couple week, we do a collaboration meeting. The next Monday following each meeting, I meet with the premier and send a synthetic document to the premier’s office. They commit just really a large amount of money... I think, 400 million Taiwan dollars or something to really drastically rebuild that local hospital facility, and fly over the doctors from Kaohsiung to train there, instead of flying people to Kaohsiung — Which, of course, this new solution is much safer.

  • In OC.pdis.tw we can see all the 43 or so cases that we’ve done this in a radically transparent manner. Actually, I joined the cabinet to work with, not for, the government.

  • There was three conditions of me working in the cabinet. That are radical transparency. Everything that I hold as a chair, every meeting that convene, we publish the entire transcript 10 days -- 10 working days now -- to the Internet, and location independence.

  • I get to work anywhere. This is my office in the Social Innovation Lab in Taiwan. Anyone can apply for 40 minutes of chunk of my time. It’s my office hour every Wednesday from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM. The only conditions that you need to agree for me to publish our conversation online.

  • That’s my office hour. Finally, voluntary association, as I said. I don’t command my colleagues. They come literally from each and every ministry. We use pure horizontalism to make sure that we figure our project, our views of everybody.

  • The regional social innovation organization tour, which we re-index all our work using the Sustainable Development Goals that we really put everywhere, on name cards, t-shirts, and whatever. We make sure that we travel to the local social innovators working on one or more SDGs, and telecommunicate back to the Social Innovation Lab, and making sure all the 12 ministries are there.

  • People see each other across their screen, and can really solve cross-ministerial issues that are related to regional revitalization. There’s many, many other networks internally that we’re expanding outreach and even citywide participation officer networks.

  • This methodology, we, of course, publish on the socialarchive.org as papers and also as comic books. That’s our training material, in six languages, including indigenous. Because everything is publicly online, we do get a lot of inquiries from the civic tech and gov tech communities in all these great cities that are experimenting with this kind of open governance.

  • We have lots of allies. We run workshops, and we’re very happy to share our open governance approaches in the Indo-Pacific and also abroad. I would just like to conclude with the new consultation platform that the AIT and Taiwan has established together, the Indo-Pacific Democratic Governance Consultation.

  • I think the first one will be in September around human right and other issues concerning regional democracy. We’re very happy to share what we have learned regionally and do whatever we can to assist others around the world who are pursuing progress in their own countries. Thank you very much.

  • (applause)

  • Thank you very much, minister. If you could join us at the table for the next part.

  • Minister Tang, thank you so much for that really vivid talk. All I can say is that it’s too bad we can’t clone you and send you across the globe to start this kind of a movement. Following the minister’s talk, we have two of my colleagues from George Washington University to give a short commentary and some reflections on digital space and governance issues.

  • Their own views on some of this and their own findings, to round out the remarks. First, we will start with Dr. Susan Aaronson. She’s a research professor of international affairs at the Elliot School. She’s also a senior fellow at the Think Tank Center for International Governance Innovation in Canada.

  • Susan is currently directing projects on digital trade and protectionism. Also, works on artificial intelligence, trade, and a new human rights approach to data. It dovetails very nicely with what the minister just laid out.

  • She holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins University. Following Dr. Aaronson, Dr. Scott White will give his remarks. He is an associate professor here at the George Washington, and also, he directs the new cybersecurity program and Cyber Academy, which is a very interesting, a new educational platform.

  • Dr. White holds a Queen’s Commission and was an officer in the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command. He brings a security background to this discussion as well. After he did his PhD, he was an officer with the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency.

  • He has consulted with a variety of law enforcement agencies across the globe, and he holds a PhD from the University of Bristol in the UK. With that, let me ask Susan to lead off.

  • Hi, everybody, and nice to see you here. Thank you, Minister Tang. It’s an honor to follow you, given all the good you’ve done in the world. Deepa asked me to try to focus my presentation, thinking about this in the context, both of my own research, and also of China.

  • I’ve decided to do something different from what Deepa asked, and what I’d like to do is put it in a larger context of the world in which we live today and the role of technology.

  • Then what can the United States, an aging democracy, learn from this vibrant new democracy? The reason I’m saying that is because I used to teach corruption. When I taught it, I learned that attacking corruption is all about trust.

  • It’s all about building trust and forging anti-corruption counterweights built on trust. It’s in that context that I’ll comment on some of the innovations that Minister Tang has done. Thinking about this in terms of technologies, we can be techno-optimists or we can be techno pessimists.

  • I’d rather be neither because I think technologies, especially data-driven technologies, have given us both the best and the worst of times. I would say today, almost every democratic society, from Sweden to Taiwan to the United States, is threatened by corruption, inequality, terrorism, and technology tools that both improve our lives and threaten our quality of life.

  • One reason I think is that these new technologies contribute to a decline in trust and a rise in distrust. They’re not the same thing, two very distinct things. Trust is the social capital that enables good governance and the rule of law, but no one knows how to build trust once it’s lost.

  • That, I think, is a key problem if you want to achieve good governance. Let’s compare the United States and Taiwan. Trust in government has been declining, and in institutions, has been declining for a really long time.

  • In Taiwan, it seems to be, obviously, in some areas, it’s declining, but in other areas, it’s on the rise. Minister Tang has said her approach, built on trust. Her premise is, from what I read that you wrote, is that if the government trusts the people with agenda-setting power, then the people can make democracy work.

  • That’s "The Economist" piece.

  • Right. What has she done to achieve that objective? Again, I’m not criticizing it. I want to highlight it. She’s created a multi-pronged strategy, an infrastructure for a more effective feedback loop. Individuals can influence government, and government hopefully hears what the people are saying and responds to it.

  • I think her idea of participation officers is really quite brilliant. The problem is, it does nothing to really build that trust. I think that’s something that you need to figure out how to do in a time of disinformation, misinformation -- which is another different thing -- and alternative facts.

  • Another thing that Taiwan has done, and the minister spoke about this, is using crowdsourcing to improve law and regulation. A lot of governments have been experimenting with this. I’m ambivalent about it because it tends to be special interests that care about this that are involved in it.

  • Nonetheless, I think it can build the trust. That’s why I’m ambivalent. On one hand, you don’t get average people, but you do get them to see that government is responsive, and you get them involved. I think that’s a really, really good thing.

  • It also seems like it’s started to work on issues in Taiwan. That is really impressive, a consensus approach, built on dialog. It’s interesting to see. OK, this is a lie. My research isn’t sensitive, but we looked at, where is Taiwan in terms of open government, governing data?

  • Honestly, to my amazement, Taiwan, if you like beauty contests, rankings, perception metrics, Taiwan ranks number one in the open data governance index score. That’s pretty impressive. All those things are things that Minister Tang has achieved and Taiwan has achieved.

  • I want to just put it in the larger context of technological things, and then I’ll shut up. I think misuse of data is forcing us to rethink a lot of things that we took for granted as goods. Good number one is trade.

  • In terms of trade, every government -- and believe me, I’ve been looking, I’ve spent two years looking -- every government has some degree of what I call data nationalism. They want to control certain types of data, and they have all sorts of excuses.

  • Because it’s personal data, because it’s secret data, etc. That challenge us to rethink whether or not openness is an inherent good and trade is an inherent good. We have to think, what is a barrier to data openness, and what isn’t? What is necessary public policy?

  • That’s just something to think about, and I don’t know if Taiwan has thought about that. Number two, more and more companies -- strangely enough, these companies happen to be US and Chinese -- are organizing and owning more and more of the world’s data.

  • I find that deeply scary, and I don’t understand why more and more scholars are not thinking about this. Google’s mission, as example, is to organize the world’s data. That’s the mission statement of a company? Is that appropriate?

  • That company, which I think aims to do good, but certainly doesn’t in everything, has so much of the world’s public, personal, and proprietary data. Just so that you know it, anytime a company takes your personal data and creates an algorithm, and tries to come up with, whether it’s an ad or it’s a solution to a problem, that company owns that solution and owns that data.

  • So much of our data and so much of the solutions to many of the world’s problems are going to reside in companies. That’s going to have huge effects on democracy, but it’s also what we call information asymmetry if you study economics.

  • Other nations and companies can’t effectively challenge the market power of these firms. Then finally, we have seen some of these firms, such as Facebook and Twitter, have become tools that both, on one hand, support democracy and undermine democracy.

  • More and more, these companies are being asked to do the job of government. What do I mean by that? That is, they make decisions about data. Your data, my data, but also, data that is essential to knowledge.

  • They have to make decisions as to when to take it down, how to take it down, and what to take down. I find that deeply disturbing. In the future, we’re going to need strategies that better help the public govern these companies, as well as our governments better understand data use and misuse, better understand the mixing of public, proprietary, and personal data sets.

  • How will democracies like the United States and Taiwan educate our citizens about this? I have no idea, but I do know this, that that is going to be an essential good governance and open governance question. Thank you.

  • (applause)

  • Thanks, Susan, for that broader context and for touching on your research, at least. Now, to Scott White for further context, however, he wants to contextualize that.

  • Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you, Minister. They were lovely words. These are challenging times for me personally. They’re challenging times because I’ve built a career on secrecy. I was in the intelligence services, and secrecy of information is what we do and what we collect.

  • Ultimately, somewhere along that chain, you have disseminate that information. Intelligence officers realize that at some point along the continuum, that information that’s going to be of value must be disseminated to other partners to share and then operationalize.

  • That, in itself, is a dichotomy for me, having spent my career in secrecy, to now find the optimal path is one of openness. You’re challenging me, Minister, at my very core. The problem we have is governments need to confront the challenge of cyberspace, whilst being equal and just.

  • Preserving innovation and honoring the social contract that it has between the citizens and the state, whilst at the same time, maintain security. Responsible governance, then, is new to cyberspace, but ultimately imperative.

  • The model that our friends in Taiwan have expressed, one of openness and accountability, is a utopian state for us. How do we get there? How do we get there sir, or ma’am, ladies and gentleman? How do we get there?

  • How do we get there whilst at the same time have security? We are confronted by a government, Madame Minister, where right beside you, that has spent a great amount of time, a great amount of money, in creating probably the most dynamic social security force that we have seen.

  • China has been very open with its concept of cyber sovereignty and the desire to extend its own ideas and its own ways of social governance to the cyber world. They are the midst of building the most extensive governance regime for cyberspace and information telecommunications that any country has seen in the world.

  • Recognizing that technology and the advances that are being made so quickly cannot be controlled relatively easily by government. As we have the expansion, the growth of technology, so, too, do we have the desire to control in China.

  • This leads us to a variety of issues that we have to deal with. How do we, in democratic societies, advocate for openness, whilst at the same time, one of our large adversaries is moving mountains to create an environment of security and dare I say, even social repression?

  • When we do a security audit for Beijing, we find that the extent to government is well beyond that of just the society, just beyond the local governments, through to companies. We see this presently in my own country of Canada when the Americans asked for the arrest and detention of the vice president of Huawei.

  • Huawei has just moved to 5G. Will we meet them there? Against this challenge, then, against this challenge, we have a government that is expansionist. We see China mobilizing in much of Africa now to assist the developing world in large projects, whilst at the same time, we see Chinese government control in those societies.

  • The social contract is there for China and its people. The social governance that they extend through the communist party makes it very clear the ambitions of the Chinese government. How, then, do we confront this government, whilst at the same time as the minister has said, create an open, honest environment for the people?

  • That’s not just an academic question for us. It is a real-life question. It is a real-life question because democracy is being challenged around the world today. In fact, dare I say, it is being challenged here. Dare I say, when we have a president who on occasion will ask members of his cabinet to engage in activities which we would deem not prejudicial to the best interest of the democracy.

  • I know that we’re going to go to questions, so I won’t spend too much time. The challenge, again, for us is how do we create a secure environment? We know that model. Our friends in China are very cognizant of the model they use.

  • It is the largest model that we see. Taiwan and India have introduced a new model for us. The Taiwan model, one of openness, fairness, accountability, all the things that we would like to see. Yet, on the other hand, we have a very aggressive state moving equally as dynamically through the world to impose a different system.

  • How do we engage in the cyber world, commerce, democracy? It is probably the greatest democratic tool we have right now. How do we engage there, whilst at the same time, protect our national security, and therein protect the values that we share here in the United States, that we share with our friends in Taiwan, openness, justice?

  • All of the things that we were raised on, all of the things that our security forces spend a career maintaining. This is the dichotomy. This is the problem that we are confronting with. This is ultimately the challenge for security services.

  • I’ll leave you with that, and we’ll look forward to taking questions. Thank you very much.

  • (applause)

  • Thank you very much, Scott. I think I’m delighted that we have two commentators, who, one coming from a much more radical openness to a more tempered set of views that are necessary to raise, I think, at this forum.

  • I think Minister Tang, you’ve opened an extraordinary conversation here that we have now a variety of ways in which to address it. I know there are many questions. I can’t see behind me, but what kind of questions we have coming up.

  • If you don’t mind, I would actually like to take the first question. Although I know there are many questions out here, I can’t resist. It’s a straightforward question for you. That is, the fact that this kind of open governance, and your innovative system that you’ve introduced, provides, I think, Taiwan a very important, what I would call, soft power.

  • In the international arena, regionally in particular, especially when, as you lay out the difference between the PRC and Taiwan, there is that huge asymmetry of soft power, I think, in your favor. How does one, because I teach, you look at these things, and how important is soft power at the end of the day?

  • I have some students here. How do you, Minister Tang, how would you formulate the use of soft power in projecting Taiwan in the international and regional settings?

  • Certainly. My name card literally has a picture of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which I wear also, and print underneath it the slogan, "Taiwan can help," which is a trending hashtag in Taiwan occasionally.

  • Taiwan can help, I think, summarizes how we’re posturing to the international community, basically saying that in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, because it is collectively agreed by PRC alike, by year 2030, we’re going to focus on 169 issues in 17 categories.

  • Mainly, the issues are structural. They can only be solved if, across sectors, people have reliable data, people can build partnerships on the reliable data, and get the innovation in the open. Taiwan starts to offer in medical governance, in the air quality and water quality, and in what we call the civil IoT system, and so on.

  • We’ve all built in an open source way systems that people can readily use without getting controlled by people in Taiwan. You don’t have to be subservient to our innovations and networks to use and contribute to our open collaborative innovations.

  • That’s actually the main message during the UN General Assembly that was in New York that I sent to our partners and my counterparts in other countries. That in any and each Sustainable Development Goals, there is models in Taiwan that we can offer to help in a non-colonial way.

  • Thank you so much. The floor, I will now open the floor to questions, as well as the virtual space here.

  • Anyone from the audience? In the flesh always takes priority.

  • (laughter)

  • When you ask the question, please do identify yourself. Yes, this gentleman.

  • Thanks. Leo Bonsnar. I’m a disaster researcher doing work in Taiwan and Japan. My question for Dr. Aaronson, I think, how do we deal with this conflict I see between soft power and trade? When President Trump just put in the tariffs against China, there was a big article in the paper about a soybean farmer out west who’s really upset.

  • Now, he can’t sell his soybeans to China and get the money he wants. It seems like that fellow really doesn’t care that China is throwing Muslims into concentration camps or undermining universities around the world. He just wants to sell the soybeans and make money. How do we deal with that?

  • How can that be addressed with this way that trade, in a way, is undermining the whole democratization and soft power business? Or to put it as, I think, Lenin said, the capitalists will sell you the rope that you can, needs to hang him with, something like that?

  • [laughs] Actually, my true area of expertise, the bulk of my research has been on the relationship between trade rules and human rights. It’s very difficult to measure how trade affects human rights. I think your question is such an important one, and I very much appreciate it, but I think you’re conflating two very different. If I may?

  • First thing is, is the problem that the farmer doesn’t think about the connections between trade and human rights? Is the problem that Donald Trump doesn’t care about human rights, and is using trade policy as his main tool to bash a wide range of countries, including our allies? Is the problem that we all don’t understand how trade can enhance human rights?

  • It can do so directly, indirectly, and over time. I would argue that China teaches a lesson that we do have more leverage with more trade. I think we’re losing that leverage. That doesn’t mean that it will directly enhance human rights. In fact, it can have simultaneously terrible effects on many human rights. It doesn’t seem to me that the problem is with the farmer.

  • The problem is us, that we didn’t do a good job of educating the farmer about the relationship between trade and human rights, which is complex, and not so black-and-white. I have strong views on it, which is I think more trade over time tends to yield more human rights. It depends on the human right. We just can’t bully China into changing its...That authoritarian regime is determined to stay in power.

  • More trade, less trade, whatever we do. Given that that’s a reality, how do we have more leverage over China on these issues? I believe it’s by partnering with other nations to work together to change the behavior of China, but we’re not doing that. I think that’s the more worrisome problem. I think it’s very hard. I was recently in Switzerland, and it looked to me like I saw an awful lot of Chinese tourists.

  • More Chinese people have the right to freedom to see other countries, to get educated in other countries. I hope they’ll learn something about democratic values, that’s through more trade. What a long-winded answer. Thank you for asking.

  • Thank you. Yes, gentleman in the back, and then we’ll take a question from the...

  • (laughter)

  • Hi. I’ve wondered in Taiwan, are they addressing the situation in transportation, such as airbag issues, by using digital technology to track and follow problems like this, and require repairs to the vehicles?

  • It’s an international issues. We have a problem here. We have a mist of it. I think success here has been generally fairly decent, I understand, in automobile repairs. We now have the new situation with problem with aircraft repairs. We have issues on a new aircraft after certification. Are they looking at this in Taiwan for US aircraft?

  • Are the, say, Toyota and Lexus vehicles, which has suffered many problems with, pun intended, acceleration, has that been addressed at all? I think digital is a way of following a lot of this.

  • Sure, yes. I don’t have many specific details, but I do personally work on two cases that may be relevant. One is, we do use distributed ledger technology. People call it blockchain. Feel free to continue calling it blockchain. I’m going to say it’s distributed ledgers, that we’re using DLTs to track supply chain.

  • Honestly speaking, it starts with data that is not in the private sector, but rather people’s measurement of air quality, water quality, atmospheric, free of privacy concern data. Still, that is very important, because when Dr. Aaronson said that Taiwan is number one in the global open data index, I want to emphasize that open data in Taiwan doesn’t only mean open government data.

  • It means open data from the citizen scientists, from the private sectors, in a true collaborative, data collaborative way. How to generate trust between a supply chain of any manufacturing, of a shipping line, of the so-called the code storage between a manufacturing of a food to its final safety space, organic food, and things like that.

  • All of this needs people who don’t have implicit trust in each other to contribute data to a common pool that people trust, that cannot be mutated by any other party. When it makes sense to use distributed ledger technology, we do use the distributed ledger technology.

  • Taiwan is, I think, one of the most advanced place and use blockchain for governance, maybe behind Estonia, who retroactively renamed their EID system to say that they run on blockchain before the term blockchain appears. I think we can’t really fight with that.

  • (laughter)

  • In any case, we’re really progressing and using distributed ledgers to give accountability across the different sectors. The other thing that I mentioned about the sandbox system, is really the sandbox system is a data collaborative system designed to have trust of the entire, for example, self-driving cars.

  • Just like the M City, we have a proving ground for self-driving cars and other kinds of vehicles. Again, the data arrangement is such that people who partner in such a data collective do have not just the visibility to each other’s data, but for private data, they also have the ability to ship algorithms to one another, and run the algorithms locally by the data operators.

  • Give our statistics that we can mathematically say it’s provably true, or true to within a reasonable doubt, that people did not fake that during their proving ground experiments in the sandbox. That’s a lot of technical detail.

  • Basically, we incentivize by giving essentially one-year monopolies, free from penalties from the law, in exchange for such data collaboratives. That’s the two cases that I have that be tangentially related to the question that you have, and also addresses part of Eric’s question. [laughs]

  • Scott White has a question, and then...

  • Madame Minister, again, the bravery is so apparent to me, how do you address the openness, the trust that you hold so true with your own security services?

  • (laughter)

  • What is the solution?

  • The solution is really a hack. As part of my radical transparency working condition, I don’t even look at state secret. No state secret passes my office. My office have a dedicated personnel to handle confidential information. I don’t see any state secret whatsoever. When there is a military drill, where the cabinet members are asked to go to the bunkers, I just take a day off.

  • (laughter)

  • This is called physical isolation. Basically, I don’t know anything about state secrets. Therefore, I cannot accidentally compromise them. I’m not advocating that everybody follow suit. There’s going to be people working on national security. For example, on my work on cybersecurity and so on, I work on the general outline, without going into specific cases, which actually gets pretty far — but I only work with OSINT.

  • Thank you. I’m going to ask Richard to read off one of the questions. I think the second one on disinformation looks particularly interesting.

  • A threat of disinformation is that people could be persuaded, not necessarily that they are. How can g0v help reveal how influential disinformation actually is?

  • I get to wear my civic hacker hat, because the question asks about g0v, not government, which gives us a much wider range to talk about. There’s certain limitations to what the state can do for disinformation without going into state propaganda or censorship of information and so on.

  • The g0v community has come up with a pretty good innovative solution. It’s called Cofacts, or collaborative fact-checking. It’s a bot called Cofacts bot. Many people go to the Cofacts website, which is cofacts.g0v.tw.

  • It’s not a government website, that basically asks people to install bots, basically add bots as friends. Whenever they see on WhatsApp-like channels, in Taiwan, it’s called Line, it’s end-to-end encrypted, so the state doesn’t get to view what’s inside the envelope.

  • Nevertheless, when people feel unsure about any information that people have passed to them, they can just simply forward to that bot. That bot will forward it to a group of collective fact-checkers that basically does two things. First, anything that’s flagged by two or more people gets a public URL, so that basically, anything that’s trending, before they get weaponized, it gets exposed.

  • People inoculate against that potentially weaponizable misinformation, so that it doesn’t actually turn into disinformation. The second thing is that once the collective fact-checkers adds up the materials and write a clarification to fact-check if it’s false, partly true, or things like that, the bots gets back to everybody who forward that to the bot.

  • It adds to the conversation without censoring anything away. There’s many derivative project. There’s one on BBC and CNN covered, the MeiYu bot, the “Aunt Jade” bot that basically you can invite to your family chatterings and channels.

  • Basically, it takes every incoming message. It doesn’t store it, but it compares with the entire database of Cofacts. If it’s fact-checked as false above a certain similarity, it just says on the family chat channel that, "This is fact-checked as false, and things are not what this says it are. Please view this to know more."

  • I think the idea is that it saves people from the effort to correct their parents and their children. A bot does that for them. It’s so effective that we can literally see a trending map of the disinformation or misinformation campaigns.

  • Also, that the LINE accommodate itself after seeing the success of this civic tech innovation, now agrees, I think by June or so, to basically have this as one of their built-in features. For anything, any message, you and long-press and forward it to the Cofacts and other fact-checking community as a built-in function of the LINE app itself.

  • They are going to dedicate a tab for real-time clarification, so that there’s a balance of views for everybody using that end-to-end encrypted system. The beauty of it is, just as how we solved spam, we don’t solve spam by forcing everybody to disclose people’s email contents to the government.

  • Rather, we ask all this email agent, what we say the user agent, which is the vendors, to put a flag button, too, so that people can flag something as spam. Therefore, voluntarily contribute to the international spam-blocking network, the Spamhaus Project.

  • Once it’s rated as spam, it’s not censored. It still goes to your mailbox, it just goes to the junk mail folder, so that you can check it when we have too much time. It doesn’t waste people’s time, on average.

  • This is the kind of agreement we’re reaching with social media companies such as Facebook, that’s going to dial down the virality of things that are fact-checked as false by the International Fact-Checking Network, of which Taiwan is a member.

  • Thank you. Could I just follow up and ask, to what extent that is being adopted by other countries? It seems like such a widespread problem, especially during elections. Especially in India right now, there’s a lot of disinformation going on.

  • I don’t actually manage the Cofact project, but from what I’ve seen on GitHub and the public development, that it’s being ported, adapted to WhatsApp.

  • This really is a social construct. We have received a lot of interest from the Code of Japan, and the Code for All world internationally. As long as there is at least three or four people who agree to meet every week to look at people’s flagged-as-rumor messages, you can get this crowdsourced fact-checking going.

  • I think there’s many early attempts at the moment, but I don’t have any numbers as of whether it gets to the same degree as LINE in Taiwan. I think that’s also because LINE is not operating in the entire world. It is mostly within the East Asia region.

  • They basically chose Taiwan as the pilot site, and see whether this digital accountability design actually makes the disinformation issue at least more visible to the research community. If it does work, I’m sure that other E2E encrypted channels, like WhatsApp and so on, will learn from this effort.

  • Thank you. Other questions from the audience? Yes, in the front. One second. There’s a mic right there.

  • I’m Milo. I’m an intern at the US-CON business council. Taiwan is complying with the Sustainable Development Goal. It has also complied with several other conventions, like EU’s GDPR, and UN’s two covenants. I’m wondering, what is the rationale between why Taiwan is so committed to complying to these international conventions, and where you see this compliance going in the future.

  • Because we can help. If we’re not compliant ourselves, there’s no way that we can offer help to our diplomatic allies in like-minded countries. We really SDG index everything. Our CSR reports that are SDG indexed, and I think, is ranked one of the highest in the world, and also, I think over 50 percent now. Our university also indexed their work in social responsibility, again, within the SDG framework.

  • If you look at our voluntarily national report, that only outlines what the state commits to do, there’s very comparable reports on a dashboard. We’re going to introduce a dashboard shortly that you can just select any of the goals and see the different sectors in Taiwan, and what they are capable of contributing to.

  • We’re also giving out regional awards, like the APSIPA, the Asia-Pacific Social Innovation Partnership Award. That gives awards not to specific organizations or individuals, but to unlikely partnerships across countries and across different sectors in advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Our top prize this year went to the Cigondewah Fashion Village Lab that is part of the UN Creative City Network.

  • To answer your question first, that we really have to be compliant, because it’s a common language that allows sectors to talk to each other. It’s just common vocabulary. The second thing is that because we’re willing to help, we also use this as an extended way to mark our existing efforts that you can see in our VNR and other social responsibility reports.

  • Any other queries? Yes, on the side, gentleman over there.

  • My name’s Steve. I work on mostly security issues related to Taiwan. Of course, our primary concern are physical kinetic attacks, and making sure the country’s prepared to deal with that. Our discussion today gets to a wholly different sort of threat that we’re very worried about in supporting our allies in Taiwan, which is a cyber attack, which we’ve brought up.

  • I don’t want to get into the details of the nature of that attack, what might happen, and so on, and so forth. What I’d really like to hear, from someone who is dedicating their life to working with the young people in Taiwan, any kind of a sense from you, do the young people in Taiwan have any sense of the threat that they’re under?

  • Do they feel a sense of urgency? This is my question. Do they feel a sense of urgency in being prepared both individually, and as part of a generation, that’s going to have to confront this thing? Thank you.

  • The answer is an unequivocal yes. I wouldn’t say that before 2014. I think 2014 really is the watershed year, with the Sunflower Movement and the Occupy Movement, where young people literally occupied the parliament for 22 days to put a stop to the cross-strait service and trade agreement that was just fact-tracked through the parliament.

  • Somehow, constitutionally, a loophole makes that it doesn’t have to be subject to the same process that all the bilateral agreements have to go through. Beijing is a domestic city of Taiwan, you see. In any case, [laughs] in 2014, that constitutional was viewed with some tolerance by the general population. The Occupy really brought it to everybody’s mind, that we do have this constitutional loophole going on.

  • People are willing to go to the street, half a million people on the street, many more online. I was one of the persons who maintained communication framework during the Occupy. After the Occupy, I would say the younger generation do feel a sense of urgency, of protecting our democratic way of life. Also, that it made, for example, cybersecurity a very popular choice of career for young people.

  • Really, being a white hat hacker in Taiwan ensure that you can get paid well. Five to seven percent of all government project procurement goes to cybersecurity, that you get to meet with President and Digital Minister personally once in a while and so on. That they don’t fall to the dark side, which always has cookies.

  • In any case, [laughs] it makes cybersecurity and general awareness a very popular thing in the young generation. They do see PRC more as a conquering force. They don’t have any conception of the overlapping sovereignty and other kind of ideologies that basically still is in the mind of people who still remember the martial law.

  • We have actually come to the end of the program. I want to just make a couple of announcements. One, this is the last week of class. I want to thank those of you, who I know you’re very busy, those of you who came to hear the minister and others speak.

  • I also want to say that the photo exhibit, which there are only eight of them right here, but we are working on setting up a larger, 40-plus set of photo exhibits in the future. Stay tuned. We’re still working on trying to get that, to have an exhibit here at the Elliott School on that, a journey of US-Taiwan relations. Some of the key elements are here. Also, we are having lunch right after, yes.

  • Thanks for waiting patiently. Right outside in the hallway, we collect it. Then sit outside or come back here. Also, thank you to IIIP for advertising the event and joining us. Finally, let me just say what a tremendous honor and privilege it was to have you, Minister Tang, to grace us with your presence.

  • Really, I can see that you can ignite a movement almost on this digital governance. Even I am so inspired and excited by some...I’m someone who is a political scientist who’s shunned technology as much as I can, but you have really made it so accessible and so exciting.

  • Thank you, and thank you also to my fellow of panelists here.

  • (applause)