How Taiwan’s online democracy may show future of humans and machines

Shuyang Lin at the Sydney Morning Herald: “Taiwanese citizens have spent the past 30 years prototyping future democracy since the lift of martial law in 1987. Public participation in Taiwan has been developed in several formats, from face-to-face to deliberation over the internet. This trajectory coincides with the advancement of technology, and as new tools arrived, democracy evolved.

The launch of vTaiwan (v for virtual, vote, voice and verb), an experiment that prototypes an open consultation process for the civil society, showed that by using technology creatively humanity can facilitate deep and fair conversations, form collective consensus, and deliver solutions we can all live with.

It is a prototype that helps us envision what future democracy could look like….

Decision-making is not an easy task, especially when it has to do with a larger group of people. Group decision-making could take several protocols, such as mandate, to decide and take questions; advise, to listen before decisions; consent, to decide if no one objects; and consensus, to decide if everyone agrees. So there is a pressing need for us to be able to collaborate together in a large scale decision-making process to update outdated standards and regulations.

The future of human knowledge is on the web. Technology can help us to learn, communicate, and make better decisions faster with larger scale. The internet could be the facilitation and AI could be the catalyst. It is extremely important to be aware that decision-making is not a one-off interaction. The most important direction of decision-making technology development is to have it allow humans to be engaged in the process anytime and also have an invitation to request and submit changes.

Humans have started working with computers, and we will continue to work with them. They will help us in the decision-making process and some will even make decisions for us; the actors in collaboration don’t necessarily need to be just humans. While it is up to us to decide what and when to opt in or opt out, we should work together with computers in a transparent, collaborative and inclusive space.

Where shall we go as a society? What do we want from technology? As Audrey Tang,  Digital Minister without Portfolio of Taiwan, puts it: “Deliberation — listening to each other deeply, thinking together and working out something that we can all live with — is magical.”…(More)”.