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China, one of the world’s prominent economic superpowers, a country riddled with international controversy, yet deeply rooted in its principles passed down from generation to generation. The balance between the pride of the country and the growing integration that the world has plunged the Chinese community into is heavily regarded as the point of departure between the country and the rest of the world.
Another important point of departure is the use of the internet. With the Chinese community being so conservative, there is a world consensus that exists, pushing the notion that China’s regulation on the use of internet is not only oppressive, but also very dangerous. Who in fact determines whether the country’s stance on censorship is oppressive? What dangers are posed through these kinds of censorships? To answer these questions in detail, we need to look at the Chinese World Internet Conference where topics such as these questions are discussed in detail.
The first World Internet Conference was first held in the city of Wuzhen in the year 2014[i] and to this day, it seeks to bring clarity to technological uncertainties, economic growth and world views on the strategies that can be better implemented by integrating the minds of delegates from over one hundred different countries, like Tim Cook who is the current CEO of Apple. To delve deeper into the true essence of the World Internet Conference, it is important to consider the outcomes that the certain restriction of the internet that China has implemented. China is one of the only countries who have been able to balance their communist views with international participation, without being disturbed. The Western influence can be felt in almost all the countries of the world, and to some degree, those countries believe that without that influence, they are lost.
Internet Entrepreneurs, A Success Story
There have been numerous call from the world for reform, and although the Chinese stance on censorship is looked down upon, it has given rise to economic superpowers that serve the Chinese people in an optimal way. With China having such a vast population, it has allowed entrepreneurs such as Jack Ma, Pony Ma, and Robin Li to develop companies that serve the people in the best way possible. Alibaba, founded by Jack Ma[ii] is China’s one-stop shop for everything, literally, everything – what’s more, the company is experiencing a growing international market, from the rest of Asia and even Africa. Tencent is a software company that seeks to create an independence from international applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter, where users’ information is at the mercy of hackers. Tencent was founded by Pony Ma[iii] in a bid to create a company that is a pioneer for the Chinese to have internet and social participation within the country’s parameters and restrictions on internet restrictions. When it comes to access to information Robin Li[iv], founder of Baidu created China’s own ‘Google’ – where the people have access to information, minus the propaganda of the world. With such companies existing, there exists a notion that can be backed by evidence of employment and economic growth, where one could even say that the Chinese have nothing to worry about when it comes to the censorship – it is actually good for them, but that, of course, is one side of the coin – while pressure and scrutiny exist on the other side.
‘Internet Plus’ – Alive with Possibility
Considering the vast development of China over the past decade, it goes without saying that innovation is a gateway for change in Asia. Congress, through Premier Li Keqiang, has noticed the need to open up the economy using the internet and therefore has approved the Internet Plus strategy that seeks to make the integration of the internet with the daily lives of the people. Some examples of the Internet Plus programme include the use of the cellphone to control home devices such as the television, the lights, washing machine, aircon, fridge, and sprinklers, just to name a few.[v] This will see the people of China propelling forward in the technological space. Internet Plus is not only limited to these operations, through Internet Plus, Premier Li Keqiang seeks to open up the economy through the launching of a project and undertaking of publishing data on public and government services. This encourages national participation in innovation in places such as education, finance, and general operations. The introduction of the Internet Plus document on the meeting held on the 24th of June will also help small and medium enterprises to get listed while also maintaining cyber and information security. For a country like China, where there exists restrictions on some sites or aspects of the internet, the Internet Plus document also seeks to lower the requirements needed to be legible for relevant services and products. Like any country that is invested in the internet as an economic growth and participation tool, there is a need for the adequate infrastructure. The Internet Plus document also details the development of adequate infrastructure and the development of core chips and high-end servers and also, the procurement of cloud computing services[vi] to influence growth and innovation in different sectors of the Chinese economy.
‘Internet Plus’ Meets Education
As new ideas flow from the adoption of the programme, one of the most exciting parts to the Internet Plus document is the possibility of the influence in education. Dubbed “Internet Plus Education” the role that the internet is bound to play in the classroom is quite broad, even limitless. When we look at the possibilities of Internet Plus in the home, where one can use a mobile device such as a cellphone or tablet to control the tv or any other electronic product, the introduction of “Internet Plus Education” can be implemented, using Acadsoc as one of the companies that can be shadowed to learn from. Internet Plus Education is a possibility in our time. Using Internet Plus as a mechanism for studying at home or on the move, can facilitate a round the clock access to information and education for billions of students and teachers. Teachers can use the cloud services and databases developed by the government for Internet Plus, as a library where students can obtain exercises and assignments before they even get to school. Tests and assignments can be uploaded to the relevant servers and clouds instantly and conveniently, removing the need to carry books around – on top of all that, students can use their televisions as a screen for online classes if their cellphone screen is too small. The introduction of Internet Plus is set to change the course of cyber-participation by so many people – most notably, the students and teachers, where they will experience a new wave of learning, inside and outside of the classroom.
A.I and Internet Plus. The Road to Internet Development
The next few years are very vital in the internet sphere. With the introduction of the Internet Plus programme, not only is there more access to the internet, but there is more participation. When we look at the artificial intelligence possibilities that robotics companies in China such as Makeblock present, their continued development can further the educational prospects of China. Artificial intelligence can be developed for companies like Acadsoc who are heavily invested in education and used as the testing ground for so many children and adults who are already part of Acadsoc. Influencers in the artificial intelligence sector such as Tim Cook can play a role in creating iPads and iPhones that are geared at a more holistic approach to education, with Makeblock as one of their consultants on the Chinese market.
The role of A.I is definitely in the hands of regulators in the world. For China, a country that has a very stern approach in the effects that internet and technology has on its people, it can regulate the role that A.I plays more effectively and cautiously. One way would be to call companies such as Acadsoc who have an investment in the Chinese educational market and Makeblock, who provides artificial intelligence kits, on how best to regulate the introduction of A.I in the Chinese market. The upside to this strategy is to not only consult with profit-driven companies but companies which understand the Chinese people[vii] to influence the coming years in a positive way.
The role of A.I in the Chinese internet development, therefore, depends on the regulations that China still has, but one can only imagine the possibility of not having to physically touch or code on the mobile phone in order for the tv to turn on or the washing machine to work or even for you to write an essay for school – sooner, rather than later.
Internet Peace, a Possibility?
Educational companies such as Acadsoc have been able to unofficially facilitate the cultural understanding of its students who reside in China and their teachers who are predominantly from Western countries. Both parties may be driven or raised through propaganda that is spread by their respective countries about one another. It is not a façade that many countries have been crippled by internet scams or hacking. For China, their security as a nation is very important and they should not succumb to international pressure – however, if there can be a consensus and conceited effort from Western countries to respect China and its way of doing things, cyber-peace can be attained, while having major benefits for all its users. When this happens, more companies who are just like Acadsoc can be developed to integrate the East and West through business, technology, and education, for all.