The Fourth World Internet Conference (WIC, Wuzhen Summit) was held in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province, China, from December 3 to 5, 2017. The event brought together more than 1500 government representatives, international organizations officials, prominent Internet entrepreneurs, scholars and experts from over 80 countries and regions. With its focus on the theme "Developing Digital Economy for Openness and Shared Benefits—Building a Community of Common Future in Cyberspace", the Conference promoted vivid discussion and exchange of opinions on a broad array of issues, including digital economy, cutting-edge technologies, the interplay between the Internet and the society, governance, exchanges and cooperation, etc., to promote common approaches to and share practices in the governance of cyberspace.
Building on the Wuzhen Initiative 2015 and Wuzhen Report on World Internet Development 2016, the Organizing Committee of the Conference projects trends of the global Internet development as follows.
I. Digital transformation of the global economy has begun; the digital economy is poised to form a new engine of economic growth.
Digital economy has triggered a fundamental transformation of demand, optimization of resources and re-engineering of business processes across the globe and pushed forward the convergence of industries. The United Nations (UN), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), G20, BRICS, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have all paid close attention to the advancement of digital economy and developed their action plans. Many countries have formulated their national strategies in order to seize the historical opportunity.
The booming digital economy, represented by e-commerce, sharing economy, digital inclusive finance and industrial Internet, has emerged as a fresh solution to structural and institutional challenges in the traditional economy, such as insufficient supplies and supply-demand imbalances. Therefore, in order to lead the global economy into a new era, it is imperative to be proactive in addressing the transformational challenges, fostering further integration between the digital and real economy, improving regulatory systems, and establishing coordination mechanisms.
II. The world Internet penetration rate exceeds 50%, bridging the new digital divide will be a new avenue for action.
The Internet expanded throughout the planet. Today, a half of the global population enjoys access to the Internet, while the proportion of the young (aged 15 to 24) netizens reached over 70%. The number of mobile Internet users increased rapidly and the IPv6 deployment accelerated across many countries.
The traditional digital divide is still there due to the imbalanced development of regions, urban and rural areas, as well as differences in gender, age, and income. The new digital divide in terms of Internet literacy and digital skills brings new challenges. Notwithstanding, the expansion of the Internet penetration, the upgraded capacity to encourage the use of ICT, innovation and abundance and an increasing affordability of Internet-related services should enable the global community to bridge the digital divide and attain the UN 2030 SDGs.
III. The Internet promotes the richness of culture, its formats and outreach, and the outcomes of cultural exchange online will be more fruitful.
The Internet has become a new medium for cultural life. Artistic inspiration and creativity have taken root on the Internet. The expansion of smart technologies greatly facilitated cross-cultural communication. Internet-enabled services such as social networks, new media, network entertainment, and online education became accessible to millions of households, multiplying opportunities for self-improvement and intellectual advancement.
Internet culture in its digital format will expand rapidly. The embedding of arts into the fabric of the Internet will give rise to new genres of culture. With perpetually growing contribution to inclusiveness of content creation, Internet users will become more exposed to, and enjoy, shared and diverse benefits of cultural achievements. The richness of culture on the Internet underlies an increasingly extensive use of digital content which forms a fundamental prerequisite of sustainable development in the long term. The proportion of digital-content products in the international trade in services will keep growing considerably. That should propel greater inclusiveness and facilitate communication and mutual understanding in the process of the global cultural dialogue.
IV. Governments are poised to contribute more actively to the global effort to tackle cyber security risks.
Cyber security threats have posed a global common challenge for governments. Ensuring security of the critical information infrastructures is the utmost priority for governments. The dangerous increase in variety of new cyber threats along with an alarming ability for offenders to stay invisible and far lower costs of cybercrime instruments has been in reverse proportion to the magnitude of cyber incidents and damages they inflict. New types of cyber threats persistently call for a more efficient collaboration among all interested parties.
Due to their mandate, governments are poised to play a leading role in promoting the security of cyberspace. They should develop respective law and regulations, encourage innovation and thorough application of cyber security technologies, bolster cyber defense capabilities, foster a sustainable and robust development of the cyber security industry, combat cyber threats, cybercrime and cyber-terrorism, as well as improve the global communication and policy coordination. Meanwhile, international organizations, Internet companies, technology communities, public associations, academia, and Internet users will continue to contribute to the process of countering cyber threats in their respective capacity.
V. International governance of the cyberspace has made much progress. Even more creative approaches are needed to promote the orderly development of cyberspace.
The international community has proactively contributed to the development of governance of the cyberspace and promoted practices in a multi-platform, multi-layer, multi-directional way. New hot topics of cyberspace governance have emerged such as norms and principles to be applied to the next generation Internet, artificial intelligence, and transformation of digital economy.
The governance of the cyberspace is in need for new ideas and should be given a further impetus. Guided by the imperative to ensure in the first place development and security in the cyberspace and by the human-centric philosophy, and the principle of mutual benefit and deepened cooperation, the international community should invest further efforts in the inclusive development of the Internet worldwide through the advancement of ICT. The international community should take more effective measures to explore mutually acceptable rules, norms and principles of Internet governance and to promote multilateral and multi-party collaboration in more constructive ways.
The revolution in ICT and innovation in employment of the Internet have fundamentally changed the modern society. Underlying the new generation of the ICT infrastructure are artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing and the Internet of things, which are going to shape a platform for cutting-edge technologies including virtual/augmented reality, quantum computing, blockchain, Advanced Manufacturing Technology and usher the humanity into a new era. In this process, it is worthwhile for everyone to think deeply about how to face the transformation, ensure sustainable development and help the civilization evolve in a positive way.
For a long period of time, all parties of the global society have spared no effort to promote the evolution of the governance of the cyberspace and have made meaningful attempts and explorations. Although the mission is complicated, considerable progress has already been achieved. The Internet makes the world close and wonderful. It is our duty to look ahead and shoulder the responsibility for building a community of common future in cyberspace and to create a better one for generations to come.