Digital helpers resolve the divide in internet access
and its applications as well as promote
digital literacy education for all

Citing van Deursen and van Dijk (2019), an analysis is carried out to compare the three levels of the digital divide. First, it was found that the first and second levels of the digital divide are mostly found among Taiwanese people who were aged 70 and older, who only had elementary school education or less, and who lived in the Yunlin, Chiayi and Nantou region; they did not have the ability to access the Internet or the ability to use applications and services. Secondly, from the perspective of digital literacy, the issue of whether a third level of the digital divide existed among Taiwanese people was examined, and it was found that Taiwanese people are generally insufficiently digitally literate; therefore, the third level of the digital divide is a universal problem. Thus, the government has suggested that, as digital construction is being promoted, attention should also be paid to the digitally disadvantaged who lack the ability to access the Internet and apply it, so that they understand that a digital life is the face of Taiwan’s future, and that they are provided with necessary Internet consultation services or assistance through “digital helpers” policies to reduce the decrease in their quality of life due to their lack of Internet access and capability in using applications. Secondly, to address the problem of low digital literacy in the overall population, it is suggested that the relevant government agencies should promote digital literacy education policies through both the education system and the social system so as to enhance the digital literacy of Taiwan as a whole.

Digital platforms are changing the way
people get their news, and a news bargaining code
is urgently needed

Digital platforms have overtaken news media as the main source of news for the public, causing news media to lose not only the advertising market but also the market of subscribers that value brands in news media. In particular, readers who were under the age of 49 and those who have college degrees or higher are turning to digital platforms for news. As a result, news media do not have enough resources to produce quality news reports, which affects the important role of news media in a democratic society. The digital platforms themselves do not produce news reports, but receive advertising revenue because they are the main source of news for the public. The news media that produce news reports do not receive any advertising revenue in the process of information dissemination, and even claim that the digital platforms provide the public with access to news produced by the news media and bring traffic to the news media websites. Allowing such a model to continue will seriously erode the foundation of the news media’s ability to continue producing quality news reports, which could ultimately harm the entire population. In the face of changes in the way people get news, the government and the public urgently need to create a fair environment for the development of news media and digital platforms through a news media bargaining code.

The breadth and depth of digital literacy
remains to be improved

As new communication technologies continue to emerge, the definition and connotation of digital literacy are constantly changing. Especially with the proliferation of fake news, fake information and misinformation as well as the rise of personal data protection awareness, the items (breadth) and contents (depth) of digital literacy need to be re-examined. In terms of breadth, it is no longer enough to only include digital media literacy, especially the ability to detect fake news. Given the convenience of sharing information on social media and communication software now, it is recommended to consider what people should think about when sharing information, i.e., sharing literacy. In addition, with the popularity of various digital devices, especially cell phones, people’s digital footprints and real-world footprints are being recorded without their knowledge. It is also recommended that the awareness of personal data protection, that is, privacy literacy, be taken into consideration as well. In terms of depth, it is important to go beyond the skills that have been emphasized in the past and expand the scope to include relevant knowledge. In addition, it is important to note that it is not easy to verify the authenticity of a news report, which is why the news media exists. Creating an environment that is conducive to the development of a news media outlet that emphasizes quality and credibility, so that the public can have access to quality news, is also an aspect that cannot be ignored.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted
Taiwan’s lack of planning and preparation
for telework and telemedicine

The percentage of telework in Taiwan during the pandemic was lower than that of other countries. In Canada, for example, only about 4% worked remotely in 2016 before the outbreak, but that increased significantly to 30% by June 2021 after the outbreak. In the United States and some major European countries, the proportion of people working remotely is 35-50%. While it may be easier to balance work and life by working remotely, those that do have less connection with colleagues and may raise the costs for colleagues to interact with each other, thus resulting in lower productivity. One of the main reasons the U.S. chose to return to office work after the pandemic ended was that it was more productive to work in an office. In fact, telework has been promoted since before the global pandemic, but it has yet to be viewed as significant. Its impact is not only on businesses and employees, but also on other factors such as public transportation and office space, requiring more rigorous research as a basis for policy development. COVID-19 has also highlighted Taiwan's insufficiencies in telemedicine, which requires more than the setup of hardware and software systems; it also involves the medical system and the digital divide in the population, especially among the elderly. Therefore, Taiwan’s telemedicine is still far from being effective.

Focusing on the AI experience of
the elderly, highlighting the relative advantages of AI,
and preparing a monitoring mechanism

The users of the four AI products or services in this survey were mostly under the age of 50 and had an education level of junior college or above, so they should have a high level of acceptance and usage of digital technology. Therefore, if artificial intelligence were to be promoted to a group of mature age, we should pay more attention to the ease of understanding and the convenience of operating the technology for the elderly. At the same time, the study found that the older and less educated people are, the less likely they will feel that AI products and services benefit their own lives; therefore, if AI products and services are to take root in Taiwan’s market, their compatibility with traditional services should be enhanced so that users can connect with them seamlessly when trying them and their advantages can be put to use. In addition, an analysis of the level of trust that Taiwanese people have in AI products and services shows that less than half of them agree with the two indicators of “comprehensive supervision and management” and “protection of personal property”, reflecting the public’s concern and anxiety about AI in protecting their personal welfare. It is suggested that the government should think about various aspects such as policy, law and education to improve the ability to regulate AI technology in terms of ethics and accountability, so as to facilitate the mutual benefit and prosperity of technology and human beings in the age of AI.

Providing analytical tools for policy
or market research to effectively predict
the adoption of emerging technologies

With new technologies rapidly emerging, the Taiwanese government is actively shaping Taiwan as a “digital nation” and “smart island”, and the public's acceptance of emerging technologies has become key. According to this survey, among different types of users of new technologies, “pioneers” have the highest level of adoption of emerging technologies while “pessimistic observers” have the lowest level of adoption. The different types of users of new technology in Taiwan can be used to predict the usage behavior of the public toward new technologies, such as AI products and services (including smart wristbands/watches, chatbots, digital voice assistants, and AI stock/ fund/futures software) and mobile payment; the reasoning is that mobile payment and AI products and services have relative advantages as they can be applied in people’s daily lives. Therefore, this survey concluded that when applying various types of new technology users, using them to predict emerging technology or products with relative advantages would be more effective. Overall, through the validation of multiple indicators, the survey highlighted that new technology user types can provide a new classification tool for future policy and market research to predict the adoption of emerging technologies with relative advantages.

Focusing on the impact of instant messaging software
on public issues to reduce the echo chamber effect

The usage rate of instant messaging software in Taiwan is 83.98%, much higher than other Internet applications. The high penetration rate highlights the fact that instant messaging software has become an important interpersonal communication channel for people in Taiwan. At the same time, this survey has found that instant messaging software may have formed echo chambers in which biases can be reinforced in people, so they would choose to ignore opinions different from theirs when they encounter them, resulting in a lack of good communication, the inability to understand multiple facets of public issues, and difficulty in driving rational communication and democratic deliberation. This phenomenon deserves the attention of government agencies while they are implementing public policies. In addition, there have been many cases of fake news or messages in instant messaging software in Taiwan, which seriously interfere with the normal operation of a democratic society. Most of the people arrested by the police said they did not know they sent fake messages; they were only sharing what they thought was important information with their friends and relatives with good intentions, but inadvertently caused the fake messages to spread. In particular, instant messaging software is mostly encrypted, making it difficult for the government or academia to understand the problems that may arise from instant messaging software. It is suggested that the government should establish regulations for important interpersonal communication channels and promote the concept of media literacy to reduce the negative effects of the spread of fake information and the echo chamber effect.