WIC: A window on our digital future

By Sajjad Malik
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, December 05, 2017
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Delegates attend the Fourth World Internet Conference in the water town of Wuzhen, east China's Zhejiang Province, Dec. 3, 2017. The conference opened Sunday in Wuzhen. (Photo/Xinhua)

The annual World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province, has become synonymous with the incubation of ideas to use the internet for the betterment of humanity. Since the first conference in 2014, its planners regularly add value to the event by broadening the outreach and quality of the interactions.

The 4th edition of the three-day WIC began on Sunday. Organized by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), it is expected to attract around 1,500 government officials, business leaders and academics from across the world to share ideas about an internet-based future.

This year's theme is: "Developing the Digital Economy for Openness and Shared Benefits - Building a Community of a Common Future in Cyberspace." This has been divided into five broad categories, including digital economy, cutting-edge technologies, internet and society, cyberspace governance, and exchanges and cooperation. 

A key feature is broad array of participation from around the world, participating in about 20 forums on the five topics. 

In addition, an exhibition called "Light of Internet" also creates an occasion to do business, as leading players can find buyers of internet-related tools and technologies. 

The internet has been made possible through connectivity, both hard and soft, that is poised to ultimately align the entire world along a major highway, linking all of us in cyberspace. 

It has opened up new opportunities in several sectors. Being a knowledge-intensive field, it provides unlimited chances for those living in poverty to raise their status by using information tools to connect with the world market and changing their fate by selling expertise and products. 

However, every technology has advantages and costs. While providing a vast field for common people to communicate and register their mark on the world, the internet has also made it easier to commit crimes on a massive scale.

Faceless enemies are on the rise and creating new threats for individuals, societies and states. We have seen the commotion in the United States over allegations Russia used cyberspace to meddle in last year's presidential election to tilt the balance in favor of Donald Trump. 

The Russian leaders have rejected the allegations but even mere insinuations that the internet could be used for such purposes signify the level of danger of the new technology. 

Similarly, the internet has played a destabilizing role due to cheap and easy access to the militant groups who can create mayhem around the world. Rebels and miscreants use social media for propaganda purposes and increase their appeal by sneaking into the bedrooms of common people. 

Another threat is in the form of porn, easily accessible on the internet and playing havoc with raw youth. 

The video games and other online attractions have created new addictions for youngsters, who spend days and night surfing the web and, in the process, damaging their health and chances of material progress. 

Such developments show the downside of digital revolution. It could become lethal in coming years and can derail the efforts to use it for digitization of the world. 

The importance of the WIC should be viewed in this context. The challenges and opportunities flowing from the use of internet are immense and the WIC under official patronage of China is making efforts to expand the services of internet for the good of humanity.

The 4th WIC offers a venue to think about how to maximize the advantages of the cyberspace for developing digital economy for a shared and common future. By organizing successive international conferences in Wuzhen, China is assuming a top leadership that will be remembered and respected for many years to come.   

Sajjad Malik is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit:


Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.

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