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【English version】 " How can we change the world? " with Audrey Tang Inspire High report 5

※This report is English version. There is a Japanese version for this report too.

The Japanese report will be →

【 Inspire High Activity report 5】

Article by:未来miku

Date and time: September 21, 2020(Mon.)11:30〜13:00

Participant : 未来miku

⦅"How can we change the world?" with Audrey Tang

(1) Profile of Taiwan Digital Minister Audery Tang

Taiwan is a highly assessed country for COVID-19 protection. Audrey made the app of mask map and reassured the people who lived in Taiwan. They studied programming at the age of eight by themself. They quitted their middle school and, at the age of 19 they started a business in Silicon valley. When they was 33 years old, they retired from the job and joined the cabinet at the youngest age.

☆What is Audrey's idea of a digital minister?

Digital is a people to people relationship. IT is a machine to machine relationship.

(2) History

8 years old→ Starts learning code

14 years old→ Drops out from middle school

19 years old→ Starts a software company in Silicon Valley

24 years old→ Opens up about gender identity and changes name

33 years old→ Announces end of business career. Becomes Digital minister

(3) Questions

What is a mask map and the process of making it?

Mask map is created by civil society people such as the g0v and so on.

In the beginning of the pandemic, we had limited productions in Taiwan. Masks were made only two million per day for the country where 23 million people were living.

For the first three months there was a shortage of medical masks. Because of this, we devised a system which will use national health insurance cards. When they bring national health insurance cards to pharmacies, first they are able to get two masks, for the next week three masks, and so on. They increased the number of masks of giving out. This is important because the affordability and accessibility is more important than the number of masks you have. If there is less access to masks, then the virus will spread.

Instead of queuing up the lines, they check the pharmacies where there is available stock. The mask map shows the number in real time.

Red shows that it is out of stock and green shows that they have stock of masks.

We are making sure that this is a real time number so that everyone can hold the system to account.

The fascinating thing here is the collaboration of the team citizen who initially created the maps and the government which is further in hands of trustability. Do you think this kind of collaboration between the government and people is unique to Taiwan?

It's always like that. Japan is not strange to this idea too. For example, the app "LINE" was used when the large earthquake happened. They used this because people needed to communicate even if they don't have electricity.

You had started learning programming at the age of eight. Can you tell us what

was the event that led to you starting to learn programming?

I had a few relatives that worked in Acer which is a large computer company. It was natural that they had programming language books in the bookshelf so I read them.

I was into mathematics but I didn't like calculations so I found out that there is a computing machine that handles calculation for me so I could focus on concepts on mathematics, not on math calculation.

After a few weeks, my parents bought me a personal computer.

What was the first thing that you were programming?

I wrote【 print("Hello World")】.

There are a lot of cultural exchanges between Taiwan and Japan.

Was there any Japanese anime or culture that you were fascinated by?

I read a manga series of "Ghost in the shell (攻殻機動隊)". Later on, I watched the TV series and movies too. It is the original of "Matrix".

What was the experiences and challenges when you decided to drop out middle school at the age of 14?

Before dropping out the middle school, I imagined that I would have to go to senior high, college and get a doctorate to work with leading researchers, for example, natural language processing, the science fair projects . I loved those professors' work but the teacher told me that I need to study 10 years to work with the person who I admire.

However I found an online website called ARXIV run by Cornell University. There, I was able to see the latest papers and research of leading researchers. The thing that was more amazing was, when I sent an email about what I thought in their article, they responded back to me. I took some minor parts to help the research and worked with them so I told the principal that I don't have to wait for 10 years to work with the researchers. After she saw the printed paper of email and the webpages, she told me that I don't have to go to school anymore.

If I was dropped out from the school, I would feel lonely and have some challenges but were these things not relevant to you?

Not at all. I started to attend university classes because I had a research topic in mind.

What is it that moves you for and what are the other things that you are trying to realize or answer?

There are two main questions that motivates you and I seek the answer. A lot of my work is motivated by these two questions, which doesn't have a standard answer.

First one is, if the people have very different positions and backgrounds, how may we arrive to come up by use. The second one is, given the common values that we have, can we innovate something without leaving anyone behind. These need to be practiced every day.

How are these questions relevant to what you are doing today as the digital minister of Taiwan?

For question one, for example, whenever there is a new technology, there are many different perspectives to use it. For self-driving vehicles and 5G, some of them think of economic prosperity but the other people would be worried about having a negative impact on the environment.

Digital can help make the environmental social impact accountable to each other. It will be better understood if we join impacts together to find out. Because there is digital technology, we could have the shared reality.

For question two, digital can help to make the innovation replicate in anywhere in the world, traveling at the speed of light. The mask map which was made in February, got running in Korea by march. The people in Korea who brought up the innovation in Korea in one short month, some of them were young and didn’t speak mandarin. Also, the person who made the mask map for Korean people doesn’t speak Korean too. However, they knew JavaScript and so they were able to interact.

How can we change the world positively?

"Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. And that's how the lights gets in." --Leonard Cohen

So, if you see any cracks, take some action. Before long, that crack might become a social object that everyone can gather, talk together and innovate upon common values. Don't do it alone, do it with the society. There is no perfect offering.

⑪ You were able to communicate with many students but how was that experience?

It was excellent! I feel that we are in the same room. All of the things that we are doing is for future generations. Not only for the economic development but also for the environment, we all should think and take actions to live happily. If you can spread the new idea, that will spread widely and we can make a new world.

Can we change the world?

Yes, and we are changing the world right now. The world is changing because you are participating in the conversation. If you understand the ideas that were spreading and spread to at least 1.01 person on average, that idea will catch a fire and become a new norm for the society. Small action can lead to changing the world.

(4) Output

【Creating new landscapes】

1. What is one thing around you that you want to change?

2. How do you want to change that thing?

3. How do you think you can participate in that change?

(How do you think you can create that change?)

*How is feedback important to you?*

Feedback is essential in making sure that the technology works for the people instead of asking people to confirm to technology. Feedback is the social innovation's most important thing.

*Do you have any advice on how we should give feedback?*

"Unmute yourself". People are muted by other people because of the required quality. The feedback can make us notice that we can unmute ourselves. When unmuting yourself, wait a couple seconds until the others finish talking. Practice active listening. Taking turns to providing outputs, which is called time boxing arrangements are very important.

My output↓

1. What is one thing around you that you want to change?

Using a smartphone for checking a map while walking.

2. What is one thing around you that you want to change?

There are people who use smartphones for checking a map while walking. For any reason, walking while using a smartphone is dangerous so I would like to decrease the number of people watching smartphones for checking maps while walking.

3. How do you think you can participate in that change?

(How do you think you can create that change?)

We can make the map application speak. By doing this, we can hear the navigation and don't have to watch smartphones. There are some apps that use voice navigation but I think it is not perfect so we should improve them.

What I felt after the session

After today's session, I felt that digital is important right now. For example, the mask map which Audrey made is so effective invention in this Covid-19 pandemic. In an era of rapid change, I think that digital is a helpful tool for us. Thank you Audrey for talking to us in the Live session!

Inspire High

Inspire High is an online service that helps and gives us an inspiration from a person such as an artist, business leader and researcher who are active now to expand our horizons.

Archive of this live session is uploaded on YouTube!↓


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