It is a pleasure and a privilege to join colleagues in extending my warmest greetings to everyone in the community of the World Internet Conference (WIC) and to all friends in China.
As we enter the Year of the Tiger, we stand at a critical point in the development of the Internet, which many see as the start of a new phase. The original Internet, with the information system of the worldwide web, was a static source of connectivity and information. This evolved, as we are all aware, into the more dynamic Web 2.0, in which users were able to post content and interaction between users and the websites that they visited became the norm. We are now witnessing the arrival of many new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality, which may transform again the relationship of the user to the Internet and the worldwide web. Web 3.0 or the metaverse promises not just an interactive experience, but an immersive one in which users may enter a virtual world of entertainment, sport, gaming, social communication and commerce.
While many are working on business models for Web 3.0 or the metaverse, these models remain, for the most part, a vision, rather than a reality. Much further work remains to realize the vision. In addition, we are now witnessing a burst of regulatory activity in China, Europe, the United States of America and many other parts of the world. The approaches underlying this regulatory activity often reflect very different views of what the Internet is or should be and how activity on it should be regulated. It is extremely important that international discussions seek to find common ground in the different approaches so as to allow the further development of the Internet in a manner that advances the well-being of human society. The WIC provides an excellent forum for fostering these discussions that will be so important to the maintenance of an Internet that unites, rather than divides, the world.
I wish you all much happiness, success and good health in the Year of the Tiger.
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