An interview with Audrey Tang for a colombian newspaper

At this time, after almost a year of pandemic, what are the most important lessons that the virus leaves for humanity?

Taiwan is one of the most important examples for its digital management during the health crisis. Curious because it is between two of the most different models in the world: China (rigid with its digital control policies) and the United States (the supposed defender of total freedom). Is there a middle ground between both models to be transparent and promote the development of digital democracy? Is there Taiwan?

You once explained the concept “humor over rumor”, do you think humor is the key to fight disinformation and hate speech? There are other better ways? It’s one of my big questions today, the world seems really polarized.

Why todays political actions create division, rather than consensus? Have something to do with social networks?

Can the democratic governments of the world be trusted today in terms of digital privacy? I mean, are they using our data well? I do not pretend to point to any government, I say it because if before it was a question we asked ourselves, now the databases must have multiplied due to the pandemic.

Is a global ethical hacking model viable in which it transmits trust to people? In Taiwan it was achieved, but the political and technological development of the country is very particular. In other countries it is not so easy.

As a trans woman, how vulnerable do you think this group of people is today and how much are governments doing to defend them?

How do you analyze the current debate around the construction of gender? I am impressed, for example, by how a group of radical feminists assures that transgenderism is not acceptable, while transsexualism is. Another group, like Butler, say that everyone should be accepted for how they feel. Do you think that is so?

You have said that building a better society starts from the simple. How to do it in societies that stigmatize and precariousize vulnerable groups? In Colombia, for example, we are far from having effective gender policies or policies that defend peasants or social leaders.

Let’s do a quick exercise. In a country whose technological development is poor, especially in rural areas, and which is one of the largest growers and exporters of drugs in the world, what could be a plan to combat this drug problem by putting technology at the service of society ?

  • To give no trust is to get no trust. Governments can start with one simple principle: trusting their people.

  • Certainly. Caught between the Eurasian plate on one side and the Philippine Sea plate on the other, the peak of Taiwan is growing every year, towards the sky.

  • Joy has a higher R-value than outrage; radical transparency and participatory accountability also help build trustworthiness.

  • When social media channels outrage into revenge and discrimination, I call it antisocial media. When it’s channeled to prevent future injustice from happening, then I call it prosocial media.

  • We have a simple heuristic: Do not collect data that we were not already collecting before the pandemic.

  • My main suggestion is to start small — start with a small community and design spaces for people to participate.

  • We just had our first transgender pride parade this November. Having a transcultural republic of citizens means anyone can contribute a different interpretation when it comes to gender, instead of feeling that their destiny is somehow determined by their biology.

  • For me, being transgender makes it easier to empathize with people. I don’t feel that half a population is different from me — I am part of the homo sapiens community.

  • Positive role models can help. During Taiwan’s democratization, the role of women in civil society has been fundamental, pioneered by prominent advocates such as Annette Lu (Vice President 2000-2008).

  • Investments in social entrepreneurship — providing legal income for crop cultivators as well as accessible education — can help, and we have 60 years of experience on such international agricultural, education and public health projects.