Fantastic. You’re well prepared to speak about that. How is it going? What is working well? What would you consider some of the stronger accomplishments of it, to date? Then, where do you hope to expand maybe in the coming year?
For example, things about climate change, that’s a favorite subject now. Not only climate change, but also all the different agric, environmental, sea debris and all of these environmental challenges that we’re facing in the Taiwanese islands.
Instead of a top-down way of prescribing issues to be solved, we used the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which are 17 categories of 169 goals that people agreed back in 2015 as something that we need to achieve together in 2030.
Anybody can propose any solution using data, using technologies, using new, novel social categorizations or whatever to tackle one of those 169 topics. Every year, we receive hundreds of applications, and then we use a unique way called quadratic voting.
That makes it possible for the crowds, for everybody with an account on our Join platform – which is our e-democracy platform with 10 million or more visitors out of 23 million people in Taiwan – to vote in a fair, balanced, and much more pro-social fashion.
Most people feel they have won after they see the tallying instead of half the people feel that they have lost, or more. Every year, we just choose those 20 teams and coach them to be tri-sectoral, meaning that each team will contain at least one public servant, one private sector person, and one academic or social sector person.
Whenever the team discovers in a small pilot a novel way, for example, of tele-diagnostics and tele-medicine, or connecting ambulance cars via 5G so that people can do real-time monitoring of major trauma patients, and so on and so forth, the president gives out five awards to five teams every year.
Whenever a team, whatever they have piloted in the three months, the trophy is actually a micro-projector that, when turned on, shows the video footage of the president herself handing out the trophy to the team, so it’s self-describing trophy.
It’s a very useful device within the public, because that carries the promise that whatever people have prototyped in the 3 months will become national policy within the next 12 months. That is to say, become part of the national policy agenda. That gives the binding power to whatever the pilot the people are doing. It’s a very popular program.
Compared to the previous two years, this year we’re looking at two major differences. One is that people can actually make wishes in a kind of wishing pool way before – like a couple of months before – people submit and register first time so that you can have a preview of your projected voting results, because people will tell you how much of those 169 goals that they prioritize, what people care the most about. That’s the first thing. It’s early-stage crowdsourcing.
The second is that we have many people donating data into this presidential hackathon in the hope that their data can help illuminate the issues at hand. For example, the NASA from the US donated quite a few data related to science and planet science.
We have the National Palace Museum here and the ministry of culture donating open content that gives a lot of local cultural contextualized story telling ways to connect your work to more people and so on.
On all these open content and open data donations, we hope that those participating organizations can facilitate these tri-sectoral teams to make solutions not only in technical science, but also solutions that can call upon more people to participate, for example, to use inexpensive devices called water boxes – that’s one of the entries last year – to measure water pollution on agric land so that plants, industrial plants, that do not make pollution will also want to procure such boxes to prove that pollution come from upstream.
The farmers there can also procure such inexpensive devices to know which waterway actually brought this pollutions, so people can find out the polluting plants together, where the Ministry of Economy promised via a act to cut electricity and water supply to those polluters. This is just one of the examples of what we call data coalitions between the sectors.
We have, for example, the New Zealand representatives expressing great interest, even sending a team of accelerator from Wellington to work with the Water Box team, because they also have a similar issue in New Zealand that involves dairy farms which has a kind of tension with the downstream as well as the upstream when it comes to water quality.
This kind of what we call the Internet of Beings, meaning that using IoT devices for lack of better words to create a digital twin, an avatar, of a river, or of a forest, or of a mountain that has health, that can interact and talk with you.
That can represent in a fair and accurate fashion, what people’s behaviors, people’s human activities are having a positive or negative impact on the health of the river, and on the waterways that creates a never before intimacy between the human beings that makes the liberal democracy as well as the environment that enables this kind of habitat for human beings.
It can participate in the democratic process. The New Zealand people went further, because they made the Waitaki River a person, legal person, so that the river can join boards of companies and actually sue for damage, and of course the river is backed by data and that data is interpreted by the Maori people as well as the government, like one delegate each that speaks for the river.
I think this kind of very creative ways to use Internet of Things technologies to give voice to voices of natural beings that previously did not have a seat at a table when it comes to representative democracy, really surprises me I think is part of a future of a more deep ecological way of imagining democracy.
Sure. There’s another one that I really like, but that’s from the first Presidential Hackathon two years ago, which means that it’s now national policy. It’s called Water Savior. It’s kind of a word play, because I literally save water. This is the original proposal of Water Savior, a worker at the Taiwan Water Corporation and what they’re doing is that this kind of listening device, like a stethoscope, they use it to listen to the pipes.
This person, I think, work at Keelung region, which is a smaller city adjacent to Taipei, for leaks in water pipe. Most of their days is just listening to pipes that are not leaking which is not a very satisfying, but it’s necessary job. Once of course they detect a leak, they can be creative and solve the issue at hand.
On average in the Keelung region, it used to take two months for a new to happen before it could be listened by this rotating repair people. They proposed a kind of making a wish, saying that we would like to solve one of the global goals 64, which is increasing water use efficiency by ensuring fresh water supply by detecting the leak through AI or assistive intelligence.
Each maybe have a confidence level of 70 percent or so, which means that we think the day’s work, it’s virtually guaranteed that they will listen to something that actually is leaking and make their efforts in a creative way.
With the help of the private sector, including HTC, the maker of this virtual reality device Vive, and the III, the Information Industry Institute, and Executive Yuan, part of our cabinet, there’s a lady, a doctor of machine learning, that joined the water savior team and developed an algorithm that learns from SCADA, which is the device that measures the water pressure and water flow.
Really, it predicts the leaking pipes in a way that enable the rapid detection of within two days from a leak is happening to it’s being repaired. Because Taiwan, again, is facing fresh water limitations every year, this is a great boon to that region.
Mostly, it’s the trophy that really played a role, because previously, for very creative ideas like this that piloted in one version, there is no existing budget to make it nationwide. Because of this micro projector that I described, they can just bring this trophy that they won to the director general.
When the DG says, “We don’t have the budget item for scaling this out,” they just turn on the projector, summon the president, and their DG said, “Oh, there’s some budget. We’ll figure something out.” Then by now, it’s scaled to the entire country.
That’s interesting, which reminds me of one other question. This very radical form of receiving input and collaboration may have some bureaucratic pushback. Are you possibly, based on traditional ways that governments operate, is that something that is occurring?
The thing that surprises me is that the career public servants that I work with are some of the most innovative and creative people that I’ve met. It’s just that, because we have a tradition of anonymity in the career public service, so that whatever innovation they did that worked become the minister’s credit.
Whatever things that didn’t work, of course, they absorb the blame, which is not a very fair environment for innovation to happen. Designs such as Presidential Hackathon, enables a risk-free way for the especially like section chief-level career public service, in 100 or so applications we receive every year.
A lot of it that came from the so-called social sector, like NGOs and POs. When we look at the proposal, it just official language. It’s probably written by a public servant, but they partnered with their social sector friends.
They just say, “Oh, we’re just collaborating over a few weekends with the social sector.” If, after three months of piloting, it didn’t pan out, that’s no political risk for them or to their ministers. After all, they’re just playing along with the social sector idea.
There was one particular trophy winner last year, it’s not until he received a trophy, he revealed that he is actually a public servant in the tax bureau. He proposed a way to use machine learning, looking only at publicly listed information for public companies, to predict whether any one of them have committed a fraud, like setting up shell company and things like that.
Panama Papers style things, like a quarter in advance. During the Presidential Hackathon three-month pilot, their model predicted that one particular company is at risk. By the time they were making to the finals, that company gets convicted for committing [laughs] a kind of fraud.
Once they receive the trophy, of course, now the entire cabinet is helping this young person to realize this idea of extending this fiduciary duty for our finance minister to look at public companies and to detect such early signs of fraud behavior.
When it comes to public sector innovation, or there’s a cooler term called intrapreneurship – intrapreneurship in the government – Taiwan is clearly one of the leaders. Part of the reason is that our democracy is very young.
The first presidential election was just 1996. The democracy for Taiwanese people is another social technology that we’re just learning to deploy. Just like any other technology, it subjects to evolution. This idea of a technological evolution is important, because the first presidential election is also the year where the World Wide Web became popular with Netscape, Internet Explorer, and so on.
For each successive presidential elections, the president candidates look at the various waves of the mobile devices, the social web, and things like that and imagined their administration in tandem with these social organizational changes brought upon by these new digital advancements.
Because we don’t have hundreds of year of proud tradition, [laughs] we change very quickly, adapt very quickly. I would say our agility is certainly one of the leaders in the world, and certainly, the leader in this region. The fruits, like the models that we discover that have worked, has brought applications far beyond Taiwan.
In fact, if those ideas – for example, the participatory WaterBoxes that New Zealand is interested in – is built upon our previous relationship, where the water savior actually came to Wellington to work with them to build an assistive intelligence to the Wellington Water Company for three months.
That is kind of diplomatic too, it is what we call data diplomacy, where the New Zealand people trust the team enough to hand them the water flow and pressure data, which is actually core infrastructure data for them to work together and detect water leaks.
Public participation is something that has a very old, ancient Greece, history. Various models continue to inspire us, but especially I think the theoretical formulation of that occurred during, for example, the Icelandic experiment in crowd sourcing their constitution.
Although it have not panned out exactly the way the crowdsourcing agenda people imagined it, it never the less provided one of the first working models of how people can collectively reimagine the constitutive documents of their jurisdiction. You can still see the ideas carried on.
For example, in a municipal level, in the Better Reykjavik platform that people from Reykjavik use something like Presidential Hackathon to improve the city. We work quite closely, actually, with the Icelandic Pirates and Best party. The Pirate party in general is setting up experiments like that everywhere.
The new sister city of Taipei City, Prague, the Pirate Party mayor Zdeněk Hřib visited the Social Innovation Lab, and he and his very young team said that whatever what we’re doing here, they’re highly interested and look forward to implementing in a municipal level.
The governments of Madrid and Barcelona have provided a lot of experiences in, for example, participatory budgeting. A lot of European countries that more and more are looking at kind of inclusive popularity in day to day democracy is more and more thinking along the same angles.
That does lead me to another question. Do you think that this type of program is actually going to be essential when there’s so much discussion of the decline of democracy to its revitalization? As a corollary to that question, the issue of political polarization that have encumbered so many democracies, what have you seen in terms of its ability to break through that?
That’s right. Social media only means through normal ways of allowing self-expression to reach unheard numbers of people by every individual, so everybody become a broadcast station, essentially. It enables millions of people to listen to one another.
The media is not neutral, the way the media is configured determine whether its actually anti-social social media or pro-social social media. For the longest time, people using social media in a way that enables the polarization as you call it, is because of the algorithm highlighted the most controversial points in the hope that people will stay on their platform longer, and view more advertisements, I’m sure, targeted towards those polarizations.
It’s kind of a vicious cycle. There was a book talking about this phenomenon called “Surveillance Capitalization.” We don’t have to build social media this way, social media can be built in a way that is pro-social.
For example, this is the kind of social media called Pol.is that is a start-up in Seattle that we worked with, and this is the actual map of the UberX consultation that we did in 2015. Everybody can see a statement from a fellow citizen.
For example, someone saying passenger liability insurance is very important, and you may agree or disagree with that. As you do so, your avatar moves towards people who feel similar to you. You also see your friends and family all over the place.
That means people that are holding different positions are not nameless trolls, they are your friends and family. It’s OK for people to have different positions when it comes to UberX. After you say agree or disagree, another statement will occur.
After you do this for a while, you’ll be also prompted to share your own feelings for other people to resonate with or not. The great thing about this technology, is that in every conversation we just see this shape of the consensus statements where there is a lot, and the divisive statements, where people agree to disagree.
If you only look at social media that are more anti-social, that is all you see in the echo chamber. People will feel that this five statements each neatly divide a society in half, is all there is. However, this is a real case, by the way, this is from Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA, where they held this virtual town hall.
No matter whether people identified as Democrats or Republican, that’s the kind of divisive ideologies, everybody agreed on quite a few things. For example, there’s STEM education, science, technology, engineering, and math need to be inclusive of the arts, it needs to become STEAM education.
This is something that has brought what we call intragroup consensus. That they are looking to diversify their problems of why, and things like that. Instead of spending most of the calories on those divisive statements, this enables a novel form of agenda setting where the mayor can just sit down and have a consultative town hall, limited with the restriction that we only talk about these items of what we call rough consensus.
When people have a common understanding, these are like low-hanging fruits. Everyone one agrees broadly that this should be done, and any mayor that implements any one item of it increase their reelection chance by like .1 percent.
This enables a form of democracy that concentrates more of about our common values out of different positions, rather than the ideological values out of different positions. This picture by itself provides overview in fact for people to feel they are after all the same polity.
Then on to the other topic of the disinformation issue, sort of segueing from that. I believe you may have said his previously, that when a place like Taiwan faces maybe 30 billion cyber attacks a month, or that figure has been thrown around, there’s really no way to exactly guard against it, it seems, and perhaps educating people and engaging people is one of the best defenses against that. I assume that, I believe, could you elaborate on that?
Disinformation often relies on the voluntary sharing of disinformation packages. If it doesn’t go viral, disinformation doesn’t do much harm by its own. What it’s trying to do is incentivize a transformation of people’s kind of helplessness whenever they feel angry at a injustice as something that’s actually not true, but they feel provoked to share their helplessness which is anger, which is a negative emotion into outrage, which is a positive if destructive emotion.
The easiest way is to just click share when you see something that provokes your sensibilities, even if it’s false. Disinformation’s danger is not in the payload of information itself, but rather in the behavior, the kind of behavior of outrage that it provokes.
If people are uniform in their ideologies, uniform in what they think is true, whether it conforms to reality or not, then this very predictably give the disinformation propagandists a vehicle to sow discord.
However, if people can adopt what I call transculturalism, which means that people growing up in one culture may be learning another language or another culture, and understanding their own childhood again, their main place again from the vantage point of another culture, if they keep doing so, because in Taiwan we have more than 20 national languages, it’s very easy to be transcultural in Taiwan.
Then everybody kind of evolve into their own viewpoint of critical and creative thinking. If no two people think a lot, if we get into the K-12 curriculum that core idea that everybody is unique in their viewpoint, and that’s their contribution to liberal democracy, then those information that want to provoke outrage, cannot easily spread.
This is just like if you have a field of a lot of different plants, a lot of biodiversity in the ecosystem, no virus can wipe out the entire field, that’s the idea in general. That’s why we have not only the K-12 media literacy as the core curriculum, but also extended into lifelong education as well.
Anti-infiltration law is not primarily, or actually I would say it’s not aimed at countering disinformation. Instead, it is a parliamentarian effort of the outgoing parliament to put a clear definition of the kind of lobbying or trying to interfere with elections, like counter-democratic behaviors and actions.
As well as repairing a difficulty in our legal system that only previously punishes the people who directly commit those actions, but not the intermediaries that accepts money, and payment, and order, and then go and work with a national citizen to perform such an interference to the election and the democratic process.
Previously you can only punish the actors at both ends, but because the sponsor is literally outside of the jurisdiction, it’s very difficult to put a penalty to them. What is being penalized is actually kind of just throw away accounts, and they can just work with a different bunch of people to commit such acts every different time. It was not perceived as very useful.
Now the anti-infiltration act defines that the intermediaries, no matter how many chains of command there are, that they’re each equally responsible as the person committing the final act, if each level, the courts can show that they accept sponsorship in order from the previous chain in the link.
Do you believe that Taiwan needs a foreign agent registration act similar to that in the US? My understand is that has been brought up for debate here, but it hasn’t happened. Is that an important part of this?
We need to distinguish between foreign powers, who all have their own interests, but do not make a claim on the Taiwanese lands as their territory, as the infiltrators who do make such a claim and have a main goal to delegitimize democracy.
It is more about transparency and accountability of people who are proxies of foreign powers, while the anti-infiltration act mostly work with the existing issue of the intermediaries that delegitimizes democracy through interference, while a foreign power’s proxy may actually commit things that are totally unrelated.
Then what kind of disinformation do you consider the most dangerous threat for Taiwan, and do you…Somewhat separate question, but whereas it seems that, in the 2018 elections, it did have an impact, do you think it did in this election, this recent election?
To your first question, if you look at the Taiwan Fact Check Center, you will see that the most insidious disinformations are the one that delegitimizes the voting itself. There’s disinformation packages that says that the tallying program have been hijacked, so your votes don’t count.
That the CIA provides invisible ink, so no matter who you vote for, it will be tallied the same. That you see four million more votes in the presidential tallying, when compared to the legislative votes, which is not true, by the way.
So on and so forth, and that we have a declining birth rate, but actually, the voters’ turnout doesn’t agree with that trend. Of course, because voters are 20 years older or more, and so on. Basically, all these disinformation, both pre- and post-election, try to discourage people from voting by delegitimizing the act of voting.
Or, after they did go to vote, ignoring the disinformation packages delegitimizes their action and the result. That is the most damaging that I can think of. That’s the first answer. As for the second one, I would say that the attack surface of disinformation for this election, as you can see, is mostly on the presidential candidates and the presidential voting process.
Whereas in the previous mayor elections, the attack surface was not just around the mayoral campaigns, but actually also around the 10 or so referenda topics. Each referendum topic is literally already a point of disagreement in the society, a natural opening for disinformation to enter. Out of that, there’s certain mayor candidates that are also proposers of referenda. [laughs]
They have an effect of reverberation between these two attack surfaces, which makes defense very difficult. Now, we have alternating years of one year of representative election of MPs, and then another year, next year in August, referenda.
In another year, mayor elections, and another year of referenda in alternating years. This is just to make sure that disinformation do not cross the boundaries, mutate a memetic virus, between the voting for people and then the referenda for issues, by quarantining them to alternating years.
Yes. If this year, we merge the referenda to the presidential election, the disinformation will easily triple or grow exponentially. I think that’s a general assessment by pretty much all the citizens, regardless of which side of presidential candidate there are.
…the greatest recipient of these attacks. Do you believe that’s the case in terms of what you’ve learned about what other countries are facing that Taiwan is, in fact, the number one entity being attacked?
I would not say that we’re necessarily number one, but I know that, along with the cybersecurity attack figure that you previously cited, I know that our cybersecurity white hat hackers don’t have to do exercises or drills, because they’re facing real battles every day, every hour, literally.
I do think that there’s a silver lining in this, because our democracy, and the mechanism that our democracy depends on, is battle-tested. This is just like cybersecurity equipments manufactured in Israel.
You automatically think that, if it can withhold such a long time – a decade or more – cybersecurity attacks, it must be pretty good. It gives a positive branding also of the Taiwanese cybersecurity industry. It seems like this trend will continue in the near future.
We also had foreign people observing our nascent democracy, but mostly to make sure that this kind of election fraud, like the disinformation packages described, do not happen. Nowadays, people don’t really think that will happen anymore, because the entire tallying process is being live streamed by people in multiple camps.
There’s virtually zero chance of that kind of paper ballot fraud, but even more people are doing what we call digital observation of election. That is on the information landscape, both in cybersecurity and as in disinformation scapes.
There’s even a technology challenge, where the leading private sector companies from the US and other Indo-Pacific jurisdictions are coming to Taiwan, I think mid to late February, co-sponsored by GEC in the Global Engagement Center to look at their technologies and whether it’s applicable to our pre, during, and post-election information landscape.
So that we can build an even better response system when it comes to disinformation, cybersecurity, and counter-propaganda on the referendum years. That’s a really hot topic in the global cooperation and training framework of our foreign service with the US and other primary countries.
There’s a cybersecurity company that I’m most familiar, because they were entrepreneurs, startups when I was really young. When I started my own company back in 1996, they were already a household name.
That’s Trend Micro, a leading antivirus company. Trend Micro is quite instrumental also in counter-disinformation, because they’re of the first cybersecurity companies that published a disinformation analysis report a few years ago.
Then they also developed a chat bot, a Line bot, that scans each incoming messages. Like if you have a WhatsApp group, actually a Line group in Taiwan, because people in Taiwan use Line more. You invite that bot into your chatroom.
That bot scans each incoming messages as an antivirus program would do, and compare it with a crowdsourced, what we call Cofacts, collaborative fact-checking, ecosystem. So that if the message being shared in the group is a disinformation package, that bot, within split second, responds saying, “This has been clarified, and this is not the case.”
If people receive a disinformation, go to sleep, and wake up to see the clarification, that’s of little use, because the disinformation already framed their understanding. It’s already written in their long-term memory.
It already maybe reinforce their thought patterns. Within split second, then it is an idea in, very old idea in journalism, called a balance in perspective and report. If you have one source, you need to check the other source.
Wow, interesting. Could you talk about cooperation with US companies in particular? There have been some publicized examples of Facebook, I believe, getting involved. Can you talk about how the major social media companies, what you think is working well, what more needs to be done for them to assist you guys?
Sure, and my colleague, Joel, can send you what we call a norm package, which is a counter-disinformation, self-regulating agreement, a kind of a pact between the likes of Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Line, PTT, and so on.
What they have broadly agreed to the norm is that one of not only transparency and accountability, but also life-long education and empowerment. FB, for example, partnered with the Hondao Elderly Care Foundation to make sure that the digital competency information packages is not just targeting the young people, but actually can be localized for very old people.
Like people in their 80s and so on, who perhaps don’t like being corrected by the Trend Micro bot in their family chatrooms all the time. They also want to be a contributor to correct their grandchildren’s messages. [laughs]
They also have incentive to learn this kind of media literacy. Our Control Yuan, which is a separate branch in the government, establish a norm where all the campaign donation and expense is transparent, down to the raw data level.
Not just the statistics, but available for independent investigative journalists, as well as data scientists, to draw conclusions based on political contribution. This is similar to the US of honest advertisement when it comes to campaign financing, but in real time, and in raw data form.
We just told the major social media companies, saying that, “This is the norm in Taiwan, that we expect democracy to work like this.” We see clearly from the Control Yuan data that there are certain expenses that are for precision targeting in your social media platform that are neither filed as campaign donation, nor filed as campaign expense.
These are filed as people friendly to the candidate, voluntarily buying, huge number of money, into precision targeting. We think that’s violating our norm. You have two choices. First, you can agree to open up again in real time whatever precision targeting terms and criteria is being put forward in your platform.
That’s what Facebook have done in the ads library, so that if there is a candidate that use this hyper-precision targeting, spreading disinformation to discourage people to vote, they can be called out within one hour and face social sanction.
That’s FB, what they have done. They set up a war room to ensure a rapid response to such divisive or counterfactual advertisements. That’s what FB did. Google, for example, along with Twitter, simply said, “OK, maybe we don’t run political and social advertisements during your election.” That’s fair, too.
Great. Do you see any risks in the effort to curb disinformation, or how does Taiwan try to navigate the need to curb harmful information or disinformation with an open society and a democratic society, and make sure that that isn’t misused, that these tools aren’t misused or manipulated somehow?
That’s a great question. I think a clear legal definition of disinformation is the first step, because without such a disinformation definition, it’s very easy to be politicized as a term. We mean disinformation as intentional untruth, intended to harm the public, not just an image of a government, which may be just good journalism.
This intentional public harm, all built upon existing legal concepts of the pre-digital media legal system, so the court can very predictably make judgments based on these criteria. We’re not inventing novel legal concepts for disinformation.
We’re just saying whatever previous acts that discourage people or penalize people for spreading misinformation when – SARS, for example – an outbreak occurs, which it actually is doing in our nearby jurisdiction.
In any case, whenever this kind of issues happens, we understand that democracy builds upon the health. Literally, the health of people. Democracy should prevent this kind of disinformation from spreading.
This is not about free speech if somebody, intentionally through sharing of data and information that are simply they know it’s not true, that endanger other people’s lives. That, of course, is clearly outside freedom of expression. That’s the legal concept.
The other thing is that we say to the journalistic community that we are partners, that we’re doing this to say that we’re encouraging your fact-checking efforts by first, never call ourself, the administration, the fact-checkers.
We’re just people who provide a real time clarification, sometime in a very funny way, for the journalists to work with. The legitimacy is in the social sector and in the journalism business. That is the first thing.
The minister’s words never sits above a journalist’s word, and we never take away journalistic freedom by, for example, issuing takedowns for journalistic output. According to the human right society, Civicus Monitor, we’re the only jurisdiction in Asia that completely implements this stance.
Many other jurisdictions in Asia implemented a certain amount of administrative override to journalism and free expression because of disinformation crisis. Our way of innovating, I think, commits to the free and open value by issuing, instead of takedown, real time clarification, like the Trend Micro bot.
Everybody in the chat group, instead of thinking that, “Oh, there is messaged disappeared by censors,” they would instead learn about something, about the journalistic value of fact-checking and so on.
The other thing that you might or might not want to include is that we refrain from using the word “fake news,” because news and journalism in Mandarin in the same word. There’s no way to say the F-word without offending journalists. Both of my parents are journalists, so out of filial piety, I just cannot say the F-word. [laughs]