Taiwan Using AI to Enhance Democracy

Taiwan has become a center for digital democracy, transforming its first Minister of Digital Affairs, who has used online platforms and AI.

Taiwan has become a center for digital democracy, transforming its first Minister of Digital Affairs, who has used online platforms and artificial intelligence (AI) to empower the people.

There are important lessons in this new approach for democracies everywhere.

The Rise of Civic Technology in Taiwan

In 2014, Taiwan faced significant political unrest, resulting in government performance ratings dropping to less than 10%. This discontent led to the Sunflower Movement, where students occupied legislative buildings to protest a proposed trade deal with China. After three weeks of continuous protests, the demands were met, marking a turning point for democracy in Taiwan.

Out of this movement emerged g0v, pronounced “gov zero,” a civic technology cooperative led by Audrey Tang, an accomplished hacker. g0v developed vTaiwan, an online platform for democratic deliberation. The “v” represents “virtual,” reflecting the platform’s digital nature, or it could stand for “vulnerable,” highlighting the delicate nature of digital democracy and Tang’s own life, as she was born with a heart condition that almost killed her.

Enhancing Democracy Through AI

One might wonder, ‘Can AI save democracy or destroy it?’ The truth is that only people can save democracy, but AI can support and enhance collective intelligence. Toxicity detection in online spaces is currently performed by narrow AI systems. In contrast, more nuanced interactions like affinity, compassion, curiosity, reasoning, and respect are recognized by new generative AIs, such as large language models. Paradoxically, people will engage in more meaningful discussions if they use advanced AI models to promote pro-democratic and pro-social conversations on social media platforms instead of worsening ideological differences.

Final AI Thoughts

Democracy may change the way people understand and participate in it due to artificial intelligence. By encouraging dialogues that highlight areas of agreement over differences, citizens can view democracy as an ongoing affair rather than something related to voting periods or left to MPs. This shows how technology can be used to strengthen democracies, like Taiwan’s innovative digital platforms and use of AI. This is the difference between the U.S. and Taiwan. Taiwan is paving the way for platforms that allow self-expression and freedom of speech. In the U.S., platforms are being canceled, and people must find tricks to express what they have on their minds.

To maintain a healthy democratic system, AI should empower citizens and increase collective intelligence, and this is how Taiwan became the center for digital democracy.

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