What if we thought about democracy as a kind of open-source social technology, in which everyone can see the how and why of policy making, and everyone’s concerns and preferences are elicited in a way that respects each person’s community, dignity, and importance?

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This is what Audrey Tang has worked toward as Taiwan’s first Digital Minister, a position the free software programmer has held since 2016. She has taken the best of open source and open culture, and successfully used them to help reform her country’s government. Tang speaks with EFF’s Cindy Cohn and Jason Kelley about how Taiwan has shown that openness not only works but can outshine more authoritarian competition wherein governments often lock up data.

In this episode, you’ll learn about:

  • Using technology including artificial intelligence to help surface our areas of agreement, rather than to identify and exacerbate our differences 
  • The “radical transparency” of recording and making public every meeting in which a government official takes part, to shed light on the policy-making process 
  • How Taiwan worked with civil society to ensure that no privacy and human rights were traded away for public health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • Why maintaining credible neutrality from partisan politics and developing strong public and civic digital infrastructure are key to advancing democracy. 

Audrey Tang has served as Taiwan's first Digital Minister since 2016, by which time she already was known for revitalizing the computer languages Perl and Haskell, as well as for building the online spreadsheet system EtherCalc in collaboration with Dan Bricklin. In the public sector, she served on the Taiwan National Development Council’s open data committee and basic education curriculum committee and led the country’s first e-Rulemaking project. In the private sector, she worked as a consultant with Apple on computational linguistics, with Oxford University Press on crowd lexicography, and with Socialtext on social interaction design. In the social sector, she actively contributes to g0v (“gov zero”), a vibrant community focusing on creating tools for the civil society, with the call to “fork the government.”


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In 2016, October, when I first became Taiwan's digital minister, I had no examples to follow because I was the first digital minister. And then it turns out that in traditional Mandarin, as spoken in Taiwan, digital, shu wei, means the same as “plural” - so more than one. So I'm also a plural minister, I'm minister of plurality. And so to kind of explain this word play, I wrote my job description as a prayer, as a poem. It's very short, so I might as well just quickly recite it. It goes like this:
When we see an internet of things, let's make it an internet of beings.
When we see virtual reality, let's make it a shared reality.
When we see machine learning, let's make it collaborative learning.
When we see user experience, let's make it about human experience.
And whenever we hear that a singularity is near, let us always remember the plurality is here.

That's Audrey Tang, the Minister of Digital Affairs for Taiwan. She has taken the best of open source and open culture, and successfully used them to help reform government in her country of Taiwan. When many other cultures and governments have been closing down and locking up data and decision making, Audrey has shown that openness not only works, but it can win against its more authoritarian competition.
I'm Cindy Cohn, the executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

And I'm Jason Kelley, EFF's Activism Director. This is our podcast series, How to Fix the Internet.

The idea behind this show is we're trying to make our digital lives better. We spend so much time imagining worst-case scenarios, and jumping into the action when things inevitably do go wrong online but this is a space for optimism and hope.

And our guest this week is one of the most hopeful and optimistic people we've had the pleasure of speaking with on this program. As you heard in the intro, Audrey Tang has an incredibly refreshing approach to technology and policy making.

We approach a lot of our conversations on the podcast using Lawrence Lessig’s framework of laws, norms, architecture and markets – and Audrey’s work as the Minister of Digital Affairs for Taiwan combines almost all of those pillars. A lot of the initiatives she worked on have touched on so many of the things that we hold dear here at EFF and we were just thrilled to get a chance to speak with her.
As you'll soon hear, this is a wide-ranging conversation but we wanted to start with the context of Audrey's day-to-day life as Taiwan's Minister of Digital Affairs.

In a nutshell I make sure that every day I checkpoint my work so that everyone in the world knows not just the what of the policies made, but the how and why of policy making.
So for easily more than seven years everything that I did in the process, not the result, of policymaking, is visible to the general public. And that allows for requests, essentially - people who make suggestions on how to steer it into a different direction, instead of waiting until the end of policymaking cycle, where they have to say, you know, we protest, please scratch this and start anew and so on.
No, instead of protesting, we welcome demonstrators that demonstrates better ways to make policies as evidenced during the pandemic, where we rely on the civil society lead contact tracing and counter pandemic methods and for three years we've never had a single day of lockdown.

Something just popped into my head about the pandemic since you mentioned the pandemic. I'm wondering if your role shifted during that time, or if it sort of remained the same except to focus on a slightly different element of the job in some way.

That's a great question. So entering the pandemic, I was the minister with a portfolio in charge of open government, social innovation and youth engagement. And during the pandemic, I assumed a new role, which is the cabinet Chief Information Officer. And so the cabinet CIO usually focuses on, for example, making tax paying easier, or use the same SMS number for all official communications or things like that.
But during the pandemic, I played a role of like a Lagrange Point, right? Between the gravity centers of Privacy protection, social movement on one side and protecting the economy, keep TSMC running on the other side, whereas many countries, I would say everyone other than say Taiwan, New Zealand and a handful of other countries, everyone assumed it would be a trade-off.
Like there's a dial you'll have to, uh, sacrifice some of the human rights, or you have to sacrifice some lives, right? A very difficult choice. We refuse to make such trade-offs.
So as the minister in charge of social innovation, I work with the civil society leaders who themselves are the privacy advocates, to design contact tracing systems instead of relying on Google or Apple or other companies to design those and as cabinet CIO, whenever there is this very good idea, we make sure that we turn it into production, making a national level the next Thursday. So there's this weekly iteration that takes the best idea from the civil society and make it work on a national level. And therefore, it is not just counter pandemic, but also counter infodemic. We've never had a single administrative takedown of speech during the pandemic. Yet we don't have an anti-vax political faction, for example.

That's amazing. I'm hearing already a lot of, uh, things that we might want to look towards in the U.S.

Yeah, absolutely. I guess what I'd love to do is, you know, I think you're making manifest a lot of really wonderful ideas in Taiwan. So I'd like you to step back and you know, what does the world look like, you know, if we really embrace openness, we embrace these things, what does the bigger world look like if we go in this direction?

Yeah, I think the main contribution that we made is that the authoritarian regimes for quite a while kept saying that they're more efficient, that for emerging threats, including pandemic, infodemic, AI, climate, whatever, top-down, takedown, lockdown, shutdowns are more effective. And when the world truly embraces democracy, we will be able to pre-bunk – not debunk, pre-bunk – this idea that democracy only leads to chaos and only authoritarianism can be effective. If we do more democracy more openly, then everybody can say, oh, we don't have to make those trade-offs anymore.
So, I think when the whole world embraces this idea of plurality, we'll have much more collaboration and much more diversity. We won't refuse diversity simply because it's difficult to coordinate.

Since you mentioned democracy, I had heard that you have this idea of democracy as a social technology. And I find that really interesting, partly because all the way back in season one, we talked to the chief innovation officer for the state of New Jersey, Beth Noveck, who talked a lot about civic technology and how to facilitate public conversations using technology. So all of that is a lead-in to me asking this very basic question. What does it mean when you say democracy is a social technology?

Yeah. So if you look at democracy as it's currently practiced, you'll see voting, for example, if every four years someone votes for among, say, four presidential candidates, that's just two bits of information uploaded from each individual and the latency is very, very long, right? Four years, two years, one year.
Again, when emerging threats happen, pandemic, infodemic, climate, and so on, uh, they don't work on a four year schedule. They just come now and you have to make something next Thursday, in order to counter it at its origin, right? So, democracy, as currently practiced, suffers from the lack of bandwidth, so the preference of citizens are not fully understood, and latency, which means that the iteration cycle is too long.
And so to think of democracy as a social technology is to think about ways that make the bandwidth wider. To make sure that people's preferences can be elicited in a way that respects each community's dignities, choices, context, instead of compressing everything into this one dimensional poll results.
We can free up the polls so that it become wiki surveys. Everybody can write those polls, questions together. It can become co-creation. People can co-create a constitutional document for the next generation of AI that aligns itself to that document, and so on and so forth. And when we do this, like, literally every day, then also the latency shortens, and people can, like a radar, sense societal risks and come up with societal solutions in the here and now.

That's amazing. And I know that you've helped develop some of the actual tools. Or at least help implement them, that do this. And I'm interested in, you know, we've got a lot of technical people in our audience, like how do you build this and what are the values that you put in them? I'm thinking about things like Polis, but I suspect there are others too.

Yes, indeed. Polis is quite well known in that it's a kind of social media that instead of polarizing people to drive so called engagement or addiction or attention, it automatically drives bridge making narratives and statements. So only the ideas that speak to both sides or to multiple sides will gain prominence in Polis.
And then the algorithm surfaces to the top so that people understand, oh, despite our seeming differences that were magnified by mainstream and other antisocial media, there are common grounds, like 10 years ago when UberX first came to Taiwan, both the Uber drivers and taxi drivers and passengers all actually agreed that insurance registration not undercutting existing meters. These are important things.
So instead of arguing about abstract ideas, like whether it's sharing economy, or extractive gig economy, uh, we focus, again, on the here and now and settle the ideas in a way that's called rough consensus. Meaning that everybody, maybe not perfectly, live with it, can live with it.

I just think they're wonderful and I love the flipping of this idea of algorithmic decision making such that the algorithm is surfacing places of agreement, and I think it also does some mapping as well about places of agreement instead of kind of surfacing the disagreement, right?
And that, that is really, algorithms can be programmed in either direction. And the thinking about how do you build something that brings stuff together to me is just, it's fascinating and doubly interesting because you've actually used it in the Uber example, and I think you've used some version of that also back in the early work with the Sunflower movement as well.

Yeah, the Uber case was 2015, and the Sunflower Movement was, uh, 2014, and at 2014, the Ma Ying-jeou administration at the time, um, had a approval rate for citizens of less than 10%, which means that anything the administration says, the citizens ultimately don't believe, right? And so instead of relying on traditional partisan politics, which totally broke down circa 2014, Ma Ying-jeou worked with people that came from the tech communities and named, uh, Simon Chang from Google, first as vice premier and then as premier. And then in 2016, when the Tsai Ing Wen administration began again, the premier Lin Chuan was also independent. So we are after 2014-15, at a new phase of our democracy where it becomes normal for me to say, Oh, I don't belong to any parties but I work with all the parties. That credible neutrality, this kind of bridge making across parties, becomes something people expect the administration to do. And again, we don't see that much of this kind of bridge making action in other advanced democracies.

You know, I had this question and, and I know that one of our supporters did as well, which is, what's your view on, you know, kind of hackers? And, and by saying hackers here, I mean people with deep technical understanding. Do you think that they can have more impact by going into government than staying in private industry? Or how do you think about that? Because obviously you made some decisions around that as well.

So my job description basically implies that I'm not working for the government. I'm just working with the government. And not for the people, but with the people. And this is very much in line with the internet governance technical community, right? The technical community within the internet governance communities kind of places ourselves as a hub between the public sector, the private sector, even the civil society, right?
So, the dot net suffix is something else. It is something that includes dot org, dot com, dot edu, dot gov, and even dot military, together into a shared fabric so that people can find rough consensus. And running code, regardless of which sector they come from. And I think this is the main gift that the hacker community gives to modern democracy, is that we can work on the process, but the process or the mechanism naturally fosters collaboration.

Obviously whenever you can toss rough consensus and running code into a conversation, you've got our attention at EFF because I think you're right. And, and I think that the thing that we've struggled with is how to do this at scale.
And I think the thing that's so exciting about the work that you're doing is that you really are doing a version of. transparency, rough consensus, running code, and finding commonalities at a scale that I would say many people weren't sure was possible. And that's what's so exciting about what you've been able to build.

I know that before you joined with the government, you were a civic hacker involved in something called gov zero. And I'm wondering, maybe you can talk a little bit about that and also help people who are listening to this podcast think about ways that they can sort of follow your path. Not necessarily everyone can join the government to do these sorts of things, but I think people would love to implement some of these ideas and know more about how they could get to the position to do so.

Collaborative diversity works not just in the dot gov, but if you're working in a large enough dot org or dot com, it all works the same, right? When I first discovered the World Wide Web, I learned about image tags, and the first image tag that I put was the Blue Ribbon campaign. And it was actually about unifying the concerns of not just librarians, but also the hosting companies and really everybody, right, regardless of their suffix. We saw their webpages turning black and there's this prominent blue ribbon at a center. So by making the movement fashionable across sectors, you don't have to work in the government in order to make a change. Just open source your code and somebody In the administration, that's also a civic hacker will notice and just adapt or fork, or merge your code back.
And that's exactly how Gov Zero works. In 2012 a bunch of civic hackers decided that they've had enough with PDF files that are just image scans of budget descriptions, or things like that, which makes it almost impossible for average citizens to understand what's going on with the Ma Ying-jeou administration.And so, they set up forked websites.
So for each website, something dot gov dot tw, the civic hackers register something dot g0v dot tw, which looks almost the same. So, you visit a regular government website, you change your O to a zero, and this domain hack ensures that you're looking at a shadow government versions of the same website, except it's on GitHub, except it’s powered by open data, except there's real interactions going on and you can actually have a conversation about any budget item around this visualization with your fellow civic hackers.
And many of those projects in Gov Zero became so popular that the administration, the ministries finally merged back their code so that if you go to the official government website, it looks exactly the same as the civic hacker version.

Wow. That is just fabulous. And for those who might be a little younger, the Blue Ribbon Campaign was an early EFF campaign where websites across the internet would put a blue ribbon up to demonstrate their commitment to free speech. And so I adore that that was one of the inspirations for the kind of work that you're doing now. And I love hearing these recent examples as well, that this is something that really you can do over and over again.

Let’s pause for just a moment to say thank you to our sponsor. “How to Fix the Internet” is supported by The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology. Enriching people’s lives through a keener appreciation of our increasingly technological world and portraying the complex humanity of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.

TIME magazine recently featured Audrey Tang as one of the 100 most influential people in AI and one of the projects they mentioned is Alignment Assemblies, a collaboration with the Collective Intelligence Project policy organization that employs a chatbot to help enable citizens to weigh in on their concerns around AI and the role it should play.

So it started as just a Polis survey of the leaders at the Summit for Democracy and AI labs and so on on how exactly are their concerns bridge-worthy when it comes to the three main values identified by the Collective Intelligence Project, which is participation, progress and safety. Because at the time, the conversation because of the GPT4 and its effect on everybody's mind, we hear a lot of strong trade-off arguments like to maximize safety, we have to, I don't know, restrict GPU Purchasing across the world to put a cap on progress or we hear that for to make open source possible we must give up the idea of the AI's aligning themselves, but actually having the uncensored model be like personal assistant so that everybody has one so that people become inoculated against deepfakes because everybody can very easily deepfake and so on.
And we also hear that maybe internet communication will be taken over by deepfakes. And so we will have to reintroduce some sort of real name internet because otherwise everybody will be a bot on the internet and so on. So all these ideas really push over the window, right? Because before generative AI, these ideas were considered fringe.
And suddenly, at the end of March this year, those ideas again gained prominent ground. So using Polis and using TalkToTheCity and other tools, we quickly mapped an actually overlapping consensus. So regardless of which value you come from, people generally understand that if we don't tackle the short term risks - the interactive deepfakes, the persuasion and addiction risks, and so on - then we won't even coordinate enough to live together to see the coordination around the extinction risks a decade or so down the line, right?
So we have to focus on the immediate risks first, and that led to the safe dot ai joint statement, which I signed, and also the Mozilla open and safety joint statement which I signed and so on.
So the bridge-making AI actually enabled a sort of deep canvassing where I can take all the sides and then make the narratives that bridges the three very different concerns. So it's not a trilemma, but rather reinforcing each other mutually. And so in Taiwan, a surprising consensus that we got from the Polis conversations and the two face-to-face day-long workshops, was that people in Taiwan want the Taiwanese government to pioneer this use of trustworthy AI.
So instead of the private sector producing the first experiences, they want the public servants to exercise their caution of course, but also to use gen AI in the public service. But with one caveat that this must be public code, that is to say, it should be free software, open source, the way it integrates into decision making should be an assistive role and everything need to be meticulously documented so the civil society can replicate it on their own personal computers and so on. And I think that's quite insightful. And therefore, we're actually doubling down on the societal evaluation and certification. And we're setting up a center for that at the end of this year.

So what are some of the lessons and things that you've learned in doing this in Taiwan that you think, you know, countries around the world or people around the world ought to take back and, and think about how they might implement it?
Are there pitfalls that you might want to avoid? Are there things that you think really worked well that people ought to double down on?

I think it boils down to two main observations. The first one is that credible neutrality and alignment with the career public service is very, very important. The political parties come and go, but a career public service is very aligned with the civic hackers' kind of thinking because they maintain the mechanism.
They want the infrastructure to work and they want to serve people who belong to different political party. It doesn't matter because that's what a public service does. It serves the public. And so for the first few years of the Gov Zero movement the projects found not just natural allies in the Korean public service, but also the credibly neutral institutions in our society.
For example, our National Academy which doesn't report to the ministers, but rather directly to the president is widely seen as credibly neutral. And so civil society organizations can play such a role equally effectively if they work directly with the people, not just for the policy think tanks and so on.
So one good example may be like consumer report in the U. S. or the National Public Radio, and so on. So, basically, these are the mediators that are very similar to us, the civic hackers, and we need to find allies in them. So this is the first observation. And the second observation is that you can turn any crisis that urgently need clarity into an opportunity to future mechanisms that works better.
So if you have the civil society trust in it and the best way to win trust is to give trust. So by simply saying the opposition party, everyone has the real time API of the open data, and so if you make a critique of our policy, well, you have the same data as we do. So patches welcome, send us pull requests, and so on. This turns what used to be a zero sum or negative sum dynamic in politics thanks to a emergency like pandemic or infodemic and turned it into a co-creation opportunity and the resulting infrastructure become so legitimate that no political parties will dismantle it. So it become another part of political institution.
So having this idea of digital public infrastructure and ask for the parliament to give it infrastructure, money and investment, just like building parks and roads and highways. This is also super important.
So when you have a competent society, when we focus on not just the literacy, but competence of everyday citizens, they can contribute to public infrastructures through civic infrastructures. So credible neutrality on one and public and civic infrastructure as the other, I think these two are the most fundamental, but also easiest to practice way to introduce this plurality idea to other polities.

Oh, I think these are great ideas. And it reminds me a little of what we learned when we started doing electronic voting work at EFF. We learned that we needed to really partner with the people who run elections.
We were aligned that all of us really wanted to make sure that the person with the most votes was actually the person who won the election. But we started out a little adversarial and we really had to learn to flip that around. Now that’s something that our friends at Verified Voting have really figured out and have build some strong partnerships. But I suspect in your case it could have been a little annoying to officials that you were creating these shadow websites. I wonder, did it take a little bit of a conversation to flip them around to the situation in which they embraced it?

I think the main intervention that I personally did back in the days when I run the MoEdDict, or the Ministry of Education Dictionary project, in the Gov Zero movement, was that we very prominently say, that although we reuse all the so-called copyright reserve data from the Ministry of Education, we relinquish all our copyright under the then very new Creative Commons 0, so that they cannot say that we're stealing any of the work because obviously we're giving everything back to the public.
So by serving the public in an even more prominent way than the public service, we make ourselves not just the natural allies, but kind of reverse mentors of the young people who work with cabinet ministers. But because we serve the public better in some way, they can just take entire website design, the entire Unicode, interoperability, standard conformance, accessibility and so on and simply tell their vendors, and say, you know, you can merge it. You don't have to pay these folks a dime. And naturally then the service increases and they get praise from the press and so on. And that fuels this virtuous cycle of collaboration.

One thing that you mentioned at the beginning of our conversation that I would love to hear more about is the idea of radical transparency. Can you talk about how that shows up in your workflow in practice every day? Like, do you wake up and have a cabinet meeting and record it and transcribe it and upload it? How do you find time to do all that? What is the actual process?

Oh I have staff of course. And also, nowadays, language models. So the proofreading language models are very helpful. And I actually train my own language models. Because the pre-training of all the leading large language models already read from the seven years or so of public transcript that I published.
So they actually know a lot about me. In fact, when facilitating the chatbot conversations, one of the more powerful prompts we discovered was simply, facilitate this conversation in the manner of Audrey Tang. And then language model actually know what to do because they've seen so many facilitative transcripts.

Nice! I may start doing that!

It's a very useful elicitation prompt. And so I train my local language model. My emails, especially English ones, are all drafted by the local model. And it has no privacy concern because it runs in airplane mode. The entire fine tuning inference. Everything is done locally and so while it does learn from my emails and so on, I always read fully before hitting send.
But this language model integration of personal computing already saved, I would say 90 percent of my time, during daily chores, like proofreading, checking transcripts, replying to emails and things like that. And so I think one of the main arguments we make in the cabinet is that this kind of use of what we call local AI, edge AI, or community open AI, are actually better to discover the vulnerabilities and flaws and so on, because then the public service has a duty to ensure the accuracy and what better way to ensure accuracy of language model systems than integrating it in the flow of work in a way that doesn't compromise privacy and personal data protection. And so, yeah, AI is a great time saver, and we're also aligning AI as we go.
So for the other ministries that want to learn from this radical transparency mechanism and so on, we almost always sell it as a more secure and time saving device. And then once they adopt it, then they see the usefulness of getting more public input and having a language model to digest the collective inputs and respond to the people in the here and now.

Oh, that is just wonderful because I do know that when you start talking with public servants about more public participation, often what you get is, Oh, you're making my job harder. Right? You're making more work for me. And, and what you've done is you've kind of been able to use technology in a way that actually makes their job easier. And I think the other thing I just want to lift up in what you said, is how important it is that these AI systems that you're using are serving you. And it's one of the things we talk about a lot about the dangers of AI systems, which is, who bears the downside if the AI is wrong?
And when you're using a service that is air gapped from the rest of the internet and it is largely using to serve you in what you're doing, then the downside of it being wrong doesn't go on, you know, the person who doesn't get bail. It's on you and you're in the best position to correct it and actually recognize that there's a problem and make it better.

Exactly. Yeah. So I call these AI systems assistive intelligence, after assistive technology because it empowers the dignity of me, right? I have this assistive tech, which is a bunch of eyeglasses. It's very transparent, and if I see things wrong after putting those eyeglasses, nobody blamed the eyeglasses.
It's always the person that is empowered by the eyeglasses. But if instead I wear not eyeglasses, but those VR devices that consumes all the photons, upload it to the cloud for some very large corporation to calculate and then project back to my eyes and maybe with some advertisement in it and so on, then it's very hard to tell whether the decision making falls on me or on those intermediaries that basically blocks my eyesight and just present me a alternate reality. So I always prefer things that are like eyeglasses, or bicycles for that matter that someone can repair it themselves, without violating an NDA or paying $3 million in license fees.

That's great. And open source for the win again there. Yeah.


Yeah, well thank you so much, Audrey. I tell you, this has been kind of like a breath of fresh air, I think, and I really appreciate you giving us a glimpse into a world in which, you know, the values that I think we all agree on are actually being implemented and implementing, as you said, in a way that scales and makes things better for ordinary people.

Yes, definitely. I really enjoy the questions as well. Thank you so much. Live long and prosper.

Wow. A lot of the time we talk to folks and it's hard to get to a vision of the future that we feel positive about. And this was the exact opposite. I have rarely felt more positively about the options for the future and how we can use technology to improve things and this was just - what an amazing conversation. What did you think, Cindy?

Oh I agree. And the thing that I love about it is, she’s not just positing about the future. You know, she’s telling us stories that are 10 years old about how they fix things in Taiwan. You know, the Uber story and some of the other stories of the Sunflower movement. She didn't just, like, show up and say the future's going to be great, like, she's not just dreaming, They're doing.

Yeah. And that really stood out to me when talking about some of the things that I expected to get more theoretical answers to, like, what do you mean when you say democracy is a technology and the answer is quite literally that democracy suffers from a lack of bandwidth and latency and the way that it takes time for individuals to communicate with the government can be increased in the same way that we can increase bandwidth and it was just such a concrete way of thinking about it.
And another concrete example was, you know, how do you get involved in something like this? And she said, well, we just basically forked the website of the government with a slightly different domain and put up better information until the government was like, okay, fine, we'll just incorporate it. These are such concrete things that people can sort of understand about this. It's really amazing.

Yeah, the other thing I really liked was pointing out how, you know, making government better and work for people is really one of the ways that we counter authoritarianism. She said one of the arguments in favor of authoritarianism is that it's more efficient, and it can get things done faster than a messy, chaotic, democratic process.
And she said, well, you know, we just fixed that so that we created systems in which democracy was more efficient. than authoritarianism. And she talked a lot about the experience they had during COVID. And the result of that being that they didn't have a huge misinformation problem or a huge anti-vax community in Taiwan because the government worked.

Yeah that's absolutely right, and it's so refreshing to see that, that there are models that we can look toward also, right? I mean, it feels like we're constantly sort of getting things wrong, and this was just such a great way to say, Oh, here's something we can actually do that will make things better in this country or in other countries,
Another point that was really concrete was the technology that is a way of twisting algorithms around instead of surfacing disagreements, surfacing agreements. The Polis idea and ways that we can make technology work for us. There was a phrase that she used which is thinking of algorithms and other technologies as assistive. And I thought that was really brilliant. What did you think about that?

I really agree. I think that, you know, building systems that can surface agreement as opposed to doubling down on disagreement seems like so obvious in retrospect and this open source technology, Polis has been doing it for a while, but I think that we really do need to think about how do we build systems that help us build towards agreement and a shared view of how our society should be as opposed to feeding polarization. I think this is a problem on everyone's mind.
And, when we go back to Larry Lessig's four pillars, here's actually a technological way to surface agreement. Now, I think Audrey's using all of the pillars. She's using law for sure. She's using norms for sure, because they're creating a shared norm around higher bandwidth democracy.
But really you know in her heart, you can tell she's a hacker, right? She's using technologies to try to build this, this shared world and, and it just warms my heart. It's really cool to see this approach and of course, radical openness as part of it all being applied in a governmental context in a way that really is working far better than I think a lot of people believe could be possible.

Thanks for joining us for this episode of How to Fix the Internet.
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This podcast is licensed Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International, and includes music licensed Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported by their creators. In this episode you heard reCreation by airtone, Kalte Ohren by Alex featuring starfrosch and Jerry Spoon, and Warm Vacuum Tube by Admiral Bob featuring starfrosch.
You can find links to their music in our episode notes, or on our website at eff.org/podcast.
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How to Fix the Internet is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's program in public understanding of science and technology.
I hope you’ll join us again soon. I’m Jason Kelley.

And I’m Cindy Cohn.