A few days ago, I had a video conversation with Meredith Whittaker, President of Signal Foundation, on Taiwan Plus, the Ministry of Culture’s English audio-visual platform, an experience I found deeply insightful.

Signal is an open source communication software that uses end-to-end encryption technology. Whittaker specifically pointed out that not only is the app safeguarded against eavesdropping, the encryption extends to “metadata”, which is content that can indirectly identify personal information. In other words, the Signal Foundation cannot obtain any personal information. If anyone has concerns, they can verify and fix the source code together.

As one of Time Magazine’s top 100 most influential people in AI, Whittaker has unique insights into the internet industry. She believes that a small number of cross-border platforms have formed a monopolistic cycle. They first establish a huge infrastructure, with significant investment to train AI for precise delivery, and then collect massive amounts of personal data through advertising technology. After making profits, they continue to adjust the AI model, so as to continuously use personal data to make profits.

Therefore, as a non-profit organization, Signal adheres to its core philosophy to “ensure meaningful communication privacy always exists” and hopes to break this monopolistic cycle.

“We navigate what we navigate with that North Star in mind.” Regarding the development prospects, Whittaker gave a poetic comment, which also highlighted that the journey ahead is extensive. The monopoly cycle not only affects personal privacy security, but also hinders industrial innovation.

According to statistics from European telecom operators, a handful of cross-border platforms account for 55% of internet traffic. As a result, the telecom industry must continue to expand additional resources and infrastructure in order to maintain normal operations. In the long run, the autonomy of individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises on the net will inevitably be reduced.

Talent and creativity are Taiwan’s most important advantages in the critical decade ahead. To prevent a few operators from monopolizing resources, network bandwidth is the core of “digital public infrastructure”, facilitating a conducive environment for talents to effectively display their creativity with new business models. Therefore, in September this year, the national 5G dedicated frequency private network promoted by the Administration for Digital Industries (ADI) officially began.

Most prominently, the “5G Vertical Industry Application Promotion Group”, which was established by 13 industry association partners together with the ADI, selected 33 practical application cases through public selection, including TV stations using XR (covering three types of extended reality: virtual, augmented, and mixed), real-time remote virtual and real visits, Kaohsiung Exhibition Hall’s 5G exhibition private network system, etc., have been chosen as partners for the next fifteen months, in order to accelerate digital upgrades in various industries.

“Per aspera ad astra” is a Latin proverb that means “crossing challenges to reach the stars.” This notion came to my mind following the conversation with Whittaker. It is also what I think is the best way to describe the digital transformation across industries. Starting from the construction of 5G, we will continue to open up channels so that the North Star in everyone’s heart can become the most dazzling star.