“For four million years, in the midst of the collision between the Eurasian Plate and the Philippine Sea Plate, Taiwan has always been looking up and gazing at the stars - this is going to continue into the future.”

🌌 One month before I took office in 2016, I was fielding questions from different quarters on a Q&A platform. At the time, a reporter from Hong Kong’s TVB asked me: “What is your vision for Taiwan? When you think of “Taiwan”, how do you imagine her future is like?” This is the answer I gave at the time.

⛰ The pushing motion of the earth’s plates has created a fault zone under the surface. This is the main reason that Taiwan has so many earthquakes. For me, the civilization living on this land has the same “fault”.

🇹🇼 In 1987, the government of the Republic of China lifted the martial law that had lasted for almost 40 years. “Authority” and “freedom”, the two major plates that had engaged in a long-term conflict, had finally shifted.

🗽 In the thirty years since the lifting of the martial law, and despite the frequent conflicts between the generation accustomed to authority and the generation accustomed to freedom, the process of mutual integration and pushing has also created the most open and free civil society in Asia.

🔢 Traditional dialogues about issues are mostly divided into a positive side and a negative side. It is easy for the discussions to become polarized or to lead to confrontation and mutual attack. In recent years, however, the assistance of digital tool has created multifaceted channels of discussion.

📈 Pol.is is one of the widely used tools. Every person can put forward ideas on the topic page and let other participants express their feelings about each other’s ideas with three options: “Agree”, “Disagree”, and “Skip”. The system follows the participants’ opinions and voting results and calculates the distance between the participants’ and other people’s positions. After that, it uses a visual method to express a spectrum that includes everyone.

💞 In 2015, on the digital economic regulation adaptation platform (vTaiwan), the stakeholders discussed the policy direction of “diversified taxis” through Pol.is. This type of design went beyond the previous head-counting, win-or-lose methodology. Apart from making different opinions obvious at a glance, participants might also see that the people who disagree with them are also people whom they know, thereby recondensing the consensus.

Everyone is bound to have a different answer to the question that the reporter asked me at the time. Currently, this approach gives us an opportunity to find out each other’s differences and common grounds.

💬 Starting from the vTaiwan experience, the open source communities in Taiwan, Canada, Spain, Denmark, and Singapore have continued to improve Pol.is, strengthen the information security, implement EU privacy regulations, and add automatic translation capabilities. Since April this year, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Executive Yuan have cooperated to readjust the foundation of Pol.is and construct a “digital dialogue platform” ([talkto.ait.org.tw] (https:/ /talkto.ait.org.tw)).

🌐 This is also the first time that the US and Taiwan have opened up issues about which both sides are concerned and invited the public to join the discussion. I believe this will become a model for the future: enabling international cooperation is no longer just an agreement between governments; rather, it is also a synergy between the people.