Working with the authorities to ensure that current policies, laws, and regulations adequately reflect the needs of a modern digitalized economy.
A new world is taking shape at an astounding pace, being built by new ideas and skills contributed by innovators and entrepreneurs. This new world is inevitably accompanied by a great deal of uncertainty and disruption, but it also brings an abundance of opportunities. The ever-evolving power of innovation continues to shape lifestyles, redefine work, and create a new economic model for us and future generations.
At the same time, however, concern remains as to whether the government is sufficiently prepared to address the challenges posed by this transformation. The question is how to benefit from the gains that innovation can bring, while avoiding the risks of a polarized society, divided between those who embrace change and those who find it unsettling or threatening. The best course would be for the authorities to take a more proactive approach, as outlined below.
Suggestion: Establish a high-level authority under the Executive Yuan to provide planning and guidance for the transformation to the new economy.
Competition is a key driver of innovation. But as new and often disruptive business models arise, governmental authorities around the world are faced with difficult decisions about how to accommodate them within the existing competitive and regulatory framework. The current rules of the game may be wholly inappropriate to deal with these new situations, but revising laws and regulations to fit changing conditions is a time-consuming exercise. And doing so in a way that encourages new technologies and new businesses while being fair to existing stakeholders requires a breadth of knowledge and understanding of market trends.
In confronting this challenge, Taiwan would be well-advised to establish a high-level authority – perhaps a commission reporting directly to the Premier – to expedite Taiwan’s transition to a digital economy. This unit, headed by a “digital czar,” would focus on removing obstacles blocking development of an open and competitive market, thus enabling innovative multinational and domestic enterprises and investment to gain access in an effective manner.
By creating new types of work and redefining economic models, innovation inevitably challenges the status quo. One of the current problems in dealing with the new challenges is that the current ministries tend to operate in silos, restricting the breadth of perspectives brought to decision-making. The new authority would be at a high enough level to guide an inter-agency process to treat multi-faceted issues. To embrace innovation in a constructive manner, collaboration among multiple ministries and agencies is an absolute necessity.
Among the main ministries contributing to this process would be the Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Economic Affairs, and Ministry of Communications and Transportation. Since the adoption of new technologies will raise national security concerns, and a new society will urgently need new approaches to education, the Ministries of National Defense and Education would play key roles. And as privacy and human rights issues will demand attention, other government departments such as the Ministry of Justice will necessarily also be involved.
Taiwan will be setting ourselves up for failure if we continue to apply rigid structures to dynamic issues, to narrowly define emerging businesses using existing and limited knowledge, and to treat developing technologies with a conservative mindset. What is needed is new approach to decision-making that will entail active coordination among the relevant ministries.