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Good Governance

Minister Audrey Tang: Using Technology to Enhance Democracy, Part 1 of 3

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On today’s program we’ll meet Minister Audrey Tang. Appointed as a Digital Minister without portfolio in President Tsai Ing-wen’s cabinet at the age of 35, Audrey is the youngest person to ever serve in the President’s administration. At the age of 16, Audrey started her first IT company and has since established several others. In 2019 she made Foreign Policy magazine’s list of “Top Global Thinkers.” Minister Tang begins by explaining her job description and thoughts on the role of technology in today’s society. “instead of technology as something like progress that we have to chase, instead technology is just our assistant. Technology should adapt to society's needs and norms, instead of society adapting to technology.” Earlier this year, Minister Tang helped Taiwan to quickly and effectively contain the spread of the coronavirus by providing citizens with information on where to purchase protective masks. “My role is Digital Minister in charge of social innovation. By social innovation, we mean people that are not public servants, like ordinary citizens who think of a better way to further a social good. And they can propose those ideas; I am the one who amplifies their ideas. For example, there was a young person named Howard Wu in Tainan City, who at the end of January invented a way for people to report which stores still have masks and which stores have run out of masks.” “I took the idea to the Premier, saying that we need to support this young person and provide the availability in all pharmacies in real time, that is to say every 30 seconds.” “So instead of asking people to trust the government's numbers, the government trusts the citizens with open data.” “I thought back to the time that I spent in the Wulan Mountain with the Atayal people and the indigenous spirit that talks about sustainability, not in the term ‘sustainability,’ which is a recent term, but by the act of acting sustainably with the nature. That is to say, when they make a decision as a community, as a culture, they do not chase something just for this generation. They think about the environment, how it is going to be seven generations down the line.”
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