There’s one saying in politics: "Where you stand depend on where you sit."
If we all sit in our respective drivers’ seats, so to speak, we of course argue for the thing that we stand. There is no neutral space and mediation space where we can see other people’s viewpoints.
This is why it’s so important to have Internet where we can, on the Internet, have a non-violent way for the civic society to participate in a multi-stakeholder dialogue, which used to be only between the government and the private sector, because the government can say, "A part of Internet is now a space of mediation where everybody can enter."
One of the very good examples is the WorldWide Views on the COP21. Last June, the same day, more than 100 countries worldwide had debates at the same time from the civil society, just citizens sitting down and look at agenda of the COP21 and see what they think about it, how they feel about it, and they are all aggregated on the Internet.
France is very special because it has 14 different debates going on at the same time, one for each region. But in Taiwan, although technically we only had the one debate, we actually had three. We had one in Taipei, one in Taichung, and one in Tainan, in the three different cities in Taiwan.
The trick is that for each city, we have a hall of about this size with 100 people. But then we installed two walls that are very large projector screens, so that when you look to the left, you see the other city people. When you look to the right, you see to the other city people.
It’s like the three cities are linked together. We stood together, and we danced to the same music, and so on. It’s as if that we’re in the same room, just a larger room.
Another innovation that Taiwan did was that in addition to the COP21 agenda, the civil society also proposed their own agenda about the climate, about local issues. One of the three mayors, Mayor Lai Ching-Te, have then agreed that this is a very good idea.
From there on, controversial issues according to the development needs which has ecological issues, must be deliberated in a very similar way involving the civil society, using a deliberative forum like this, and kept to the record.
This is why we use and we train professional mediators for this purpose, because only with professional mediators can we look at the government and the civil society, as well as the private sector, and share the early stage information so that people can participate with policies before they become problems, when they are initially just challenges.
This brings us to the world of today. This, from Wikipedia, is a map of Uber around the world. The red means they’re illegal. The green dots means the cities that they are legal. The pink, like in France and in Taiwan, means that they are currently in contention. They are controversial. We prepared this with the Wikipedia community last year.
Then we say that we must deliberate this, and people want to deliberate first about Uber and about AirBnB and then next about BitCoin. Then, the way that we do this is that we crowdsource the agenda from the participation for the Internet, and that we say we talk about very specific things, just private drivers without private drivers’ license taking passengers and charging them for it.
We don’t talk about the sharing economy, the Uber company, or the large narratives, larger values. We use an "overlapping consensus" way to focus on just one single issue.
Then, we publish the open data, and we guarantee that all the stakeholders, including Taxi fleets, Uber, the Associations, the Ministries, will sit down and talk like this for two hours, using the agenda crowdsourced from the Internet.
This is what we show to everybody in the same time, in the same hour of the day. People see on Pol.is one single sentiment from their fellow citizens. They can say yes or no. As they say yes or no, their position change among the people, so that initially there’s four groups of Uber drivers, taxi drivers, Uber passengers, other passengers, and they have very strong views.
But the good thing about this way of reflection is that it lets you see your Facebook friends or Twitter friends are all over the different camps. They’re not enemies. They’re people you know. You just didn’t know they have such ideas. [laughs] Those are not your enemies. Those are your friends. That’s one thing.
The other thing is that people’s position can change. As you answer questions, people can propose new sentiments that are more nuanced, more moderate, and then they get more consensus. They go to the middle, and they merge into shared groups. After three weeks of deliberation, we actually agreed on a lot of things that everybody across Taiwan could agree while they couldn’t in the first.
We published the open data for independent analysis from scholars and from the policymakers and from Uber themselves, and then we run a deliberation with all the stakeholders in the same room, looking at the consensus, this form from the Internet, and talk on only those points.