Wuzhen wows

The an­cient wa­ter town has turned into a high-tech haven

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - Cao Yin

Iar­rived in rain-washed Wuzhen, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, on Mon­day evening. The shut­tle bus ride from the rail­way sta­tion in Tongx­i­ang— the near­est to Wuzhen— tomy ho­tel af­forded me im­ages of the town shrouded in mist. Wuzhen ap­peared mys­te­ri­ous and en­er­getic in­deed.

The town, known for its water­ways, is host­ing the World In­ter­net Con­fer­ence for the third time. And I’m here for a third time to cover the an­nual event.

That has made me a wit­ness to the changes the town has un­der­gone over the years. Those changes have much to do with Wuzhen host­ing the an­nual event. There are many busi­nesses here that are re­lated to the event.

As a con­fer­ence reg­u­lar, I’m fa­mil­iar with the nitty-gritty: how to reg­is­ter on­line for the event, how much ex­tra time is to be re­served to take part in a panel dis­cus­sion and such. Yet, each con­fer­ence’s topics, fo­cus ar­eas and ac­tiv­i­ties tend to be dif­fer­ent, mak­ing me feel like a rookie reporter.

The con­fer­ence venue in Wuzhen re­mains the same, but fresh at­trac­tions al­ways cheer me up, en­cour­ag­ing me to keep learn­ing and writ­ing about the new de­vel­op­ments.

In 2014, the con­fer­ence host, the Cy­berspace Ad­min­is­tra­tion of China, an­nounced that the town had been cov­ered with free Wi-Fi, to make it eas­ier for jour­nal­ists and guests to com­mu­ni­cate with the rest of the world.

But the ben­e­fits of free ac­cess to the in­ter­net were far-reach­ing. In a sense, it was a per­fect com­bi­na­tion of the high-tech and the an­cient in this town. For the first time, many in­dus­tries got an op­por­tu­nity to fur­ther ex­pand their reach through cy­berspace.

The ad­vance of new com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nolo­gies in this an­cient town ap­pears re­lent­less. I’m now ac­cus­tomed to us­ing nifty net­work de­vices here. But then, Wuzhen sur­prises me ev­ery time it hosts the con­fer­ence with the launch of a large num­ber of high-tech prod­ucts and on­line ser­vices.

This year, smart ro­bots pow­ered by ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence are demon­strat­ing how they are chang­ing the world and what more con­tri­bu­tions they will make to peo­ple’s lives.

Jiang Yong, founder of it­slaw.com, a web-based le­gal ser­vices provider, said the in­ter­net seems to be en­ter­ing a new­era as the first step to­ward con­nect­ing var­i­ous in­dus­tries on­line has been com­pleted.

“What we’ll or should do in the near fu­ture is to ap­ply these ar­ti­fi­cially in­tel­li­gent prod­ucts to our life... serve more peo­ple,” Jiang said. “For ex­am­ple, use the in­ter­net in med­i­cal care or law­suits.”

It­slaw.com’s new­prod­uct, Fax­i­ao­tao, is an AI-based le­gal ro­bot. It can help peo­ple and en­ter­prises to seek lawyers by an­a­lyz­ing an at­tor­ney’s data­base. “Sim­i­lar prod­ucts will ap­pear, and more re­lated tal­ents, I be­lieve, will help power the in­ter­net’s sec­ond stage of evolution,” he said.

In ad­di­tion, cy­berspace gov­er­nance has cre­ated new hopes, par­tic­u­larly those re­lated to se­cu­rity. The con­fer­ence has had spir­ited dis­cus­sions on China’s first Cy­ber­se­cu­rity Law, which was adopted ear­lier this month, and re­lated is­sues.

Li Yux­iao, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Cy­ber­se­cu­rity As­so­ci­a­tion of China, said the lawis a mile­stone leg­is­la­tion. “It’s glad­den­ing to see the law grows out of noth­ing.”

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