Questions from Korean journalist

Dear Audrey Tang,

I really appreciate your sparing your precious time and thoughts.

My questions are:

  1. Your were already a superb programmer and successful entrepreneur. You might have been yourself a founder of a tech company, like Mark Zuckerberg who is a kind of emperor of a huge digital platform. What made you walk the different track as a civic hacker and public servant?

  2. Your advocacy of internet platform as a tool for deepening democracy could be seen as a challenging or alternative model to the platforms operated by big private tech company. What is your take on the big private platforms which are criticized for abusing their dominant powers? How can we make the established technological tools including “antisocial” social media serve our democracy?

  3. One of your core values is “radical transparency” and you gave us a few good examples of your accomplishments. But Could it be possible that everything of a government is transparent? There must be some national security or diplomatic relation problems which needs some protection from outside, at least for the time being. Does this mean that there should be some limit to radical transparency?

  4. Have you ever seen any criticism of your innovative efforts so far? How did you cope with them?

  5. Politics is said to be a power struggle fundamentally. At a glance, you seems to try to redefine politics in digitally interconnected society. Would you elaborate your thoughts of politics?

  6. Do you believe in a governance without government in a country? Do you think it is possible in the near future?

  7. What is your take on the dilemma between a surveillance capitalism and a surveillance state?

  8. How do you see PRC’s recent threat to Taiwan? What is your vision of the relationship between Taiwan and PRC?

  9. You seem to be deeply influenced by Manuel Castells whose books you read a lot. Is there any other thinker you studied or admire?

  10. Korean modern history is a bit similar to Taiwan’s in terms of having experienced its rapid democratization after industrialization under dictatorship. But at the moment, Korean politics reached impasse between old rival parties. They call themselves a ‘progressives’ or ‘conservatives’ but both are showing just old-fashioned behaviors. Do you think Taiwan is different?

  11. One of most impressive things is Taiwan seems to have a vibrant “civic hacker” community, who are helping Taiwan’s digital democracy. As for IT infrastructure and engineers, Korea is also highly advanced but we don’t have conspicuous civic hacker groups like in Taiwan. What do you think made the difference?

  12. It seems that the technology-financial capital complex is gaining a huge power over the world. Some people say of the rise of ‘winner-take-all society’. They are suspicious of Silicon Valley-led high-tech industries and their rosy visions. How can we deal with them in strengthening our democracy?

  13. You seem to think very highly of VR in that it could enhance people’s empathetic competency. But some people are afraid that its addiction could keep people’s attention away from their real life-conditions in need of change.

  14. You are a trans-gender human. What do you think of trans-humanism?

  15. Jobless growth is a serious problem over the world. It seems to be an inevitable result of automization by machines. Many people, even very young people are rushing to bet on the stocks and bitcoins. What is your advice to those young people? How can they prepare for the future?

  16. You must have so many things to do as a super-multiplayer. I heard you are involved in many international projects and you are still coding. How can you deal with all? Do you have any rule to make time for only you?

  17. You chose the internet as the best tool for educating yourself. Do you still believe just the internet is good enough for a student’s learning? What do you think of the value of books, especially paper books?

  18. What is the term limit of your job as a digital minister? Do you have any further plan after that?

  19. You are just 40 years old. What is your short term plan and long term one? What is your ultimate goal?

Thank you so much.

Best wishes,

  1. I joined the Cabinet mostly for fun — to create a space that people can enjoy the process of democracy, and while enjoying the process, also make other people see that democratic values in today’s Internet world, it is not always just to get upset, protest, or things like that that are important. There’s also the joy of creation and of thinking and listening to each other together.

  2. Through people-public-private partnership. That is to say the social sector will set the norm. For example, countering coronavirus, we would need the social sector to get a norm of wearing mask and washing hands. If the social norm is not established, top-down actions doesn’t quite work, and we know that around the world.

  3. Radical transparency means transparency at a root. If a visitor talks about an anecdote of your friend, and the friend have not clear it for public understanding or review, then they can remove it, citing privacy or trade secret, or any other legitimate reasons. Since it takes more effort to redact that out of our transcript than the default, which is if none of the visitors do anything, the entire transcript is published to the public domain.

  4. There are folks who would prefer a more top-down approach. As what I’m doing is essentially applied philosophy to find common values out of different values, I always invite those folks to become co-creators.

  5. We’re not hoarding the power, and our power is that of a network making power — not a power within a network. Collaboration among different people and respecting people’s cultural differences, is much more important than optimizing for any particular utility functions.

  6. Internet Governance already works this way; people join the Internet because it’s good for every network operator that joins. My work has been just projecting what I have learned as a 15-year-old, radical transparency, rough consensus, and so on, which is native in Internet governance into everyday politics.

  7. We do have viable alternatives, for example participatory self-surveillance and data coalitions formed by social-sector data stewards that improves everyone’s digital competence.

  8. To me, PRC’s recent crackdowns in Hong Kong is hinged on the premise that if you have too much democracy, it will hurt stability, harmony, and economy. In Taiwan, I think we have a responsibility to show that democracy works, and not just lockdown or top-down or takedown I think we can further democracy and showing a working democratic model, the Taiwan Model.

  9. Personally, I come from the free software and open culture movement, with leading thinkers such as Richard Stallman. In Asia, Kōjin Karatani’s ideas around exchange modes have also influenced my work.

Thank you so much for your kind answers. I look forward to your reply to the other questions left(10-19), if you can.