Q&A: Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang on AI and Censorship

WASHINGTON – On the sidelines of the 78th United Nations Normal Meeting in New York final week, Taiwan’s Minister of Digital Affairs Audrey Tang delivered a speech on the Concordia Annual Summit on digital democracy and synthetic intelligence. VOA spoke with Tang about how AI may assist break by way of China’s censorship and the challenges and alternatives the know-how brings to world democracy.

This interview has been edited for readability and brevity.

VOA: You talked about the idea of AI governance in your speech. Along with being utilized to democratic international locations, can this idea even be utilized to totalitarian international locations?

Tang: From 2010 to 2012 and 2013, consultative democracy was additionally studied in some locations within the CCP [Chinese Communist Party], however not on the central degree. Later, together with freedom of the press, meeting, affiliation and expression, all points had been restricted. When you have a look at the papers, there have been only a few research selling consultative democracy by way of the web in recent times. Conceptually and theoretically, if we have a look at the scenario in 2000, it appeared potential. But when we have a look at the scenario in recent times, there appears to be no analysis on this. Possibly the premise is freedom of the press, and folks should absolutely perceive what the reality is. No matter session or deliberation, this basis is required. If freedom of the press is disadvantaged, it is not going to be simple to develop additional.

VOA: What do you consider the potential and limitations of synthetic intelligence in China?

Tang: Synthetic intelligence know-how can flip public info on the whole Web into materials. After the [open-source] mannequin is efficiently created, it might probably truly be saved on a USB flash drive. Anybody can run this mannequin on a laptop computer or private pc, which drastically challenges censorship. Up to now, so long as a complete totalitarian authorities guarded entry to Google, Wikipedia or different web sites, it could make it tough for his or her individuals to get the reality. However now, so long as netizens can get the [open-source] language fashions on a flash drive … they are going to not want an web connection, and so they can at all times discover out what occurred and when precisely did it occur.

VOA: Former White Home deputy nationwide safety adviser Matt Pottinger has proposed punching holes in China’s Nice Firewall. Is that potential?

Tang: If the holes are short-term, they are going to be repaired as soon as individuals discover them. The language fashions I simply talked about do not imply that there must be holes repeatedly, however that if there’s a sure option to ship info in, there isn’t a want to hook up with the skin anymore. The unhealthy use is that if a Malicious program is shipped in, there isn’t a want to regulate the pc anymore, and it might probably conduct community assaults by itself. This can be a unhealthy use. However there may be one other use, which is to ship within the fact, and after that, it might probably even inform the customers within the interactive Q&A format, together with displaying contemporaneous pictures and movies from the time.

VOA: Does your upbringing and mind-set aid you along with your present work?

Tang: I’m nonbinary not solely by way of gender but additionally by way of ideology. Many individuals need to make selections, such because the left and the proper [politically]. For me, all of them coexist. I do not significantly really feel I am very near or very removed from half of the individuals as a result of they’re rightists or leftists. I do not assume that approach. Everyone seems to be on the identical distance. If I can not perceive the concepts of a sure aspect, I’ll really feel I am not plural sufficient, and I ought to be in contact with them extra.