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Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet


Editor's Note: Wuzhen, a water town in East China's Zhejiang province, was under the spotlight this week as dozens of global Internet heavyweights gathered here for the Second World Internet Conference held on Dec 16-18. The CEOs and experts pictured what our world will be like in the era of Internet, and also shared their vision on how to manage the cyberspace more efficiently. 

1. Internet governance

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Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba

The Internet needs shared but differentiated governance. The Internet has turned human beings into a community of a shared future. If we don't have systematic governance on the development of the Internet, it will pose a challenge to all human beings.

The Internet needs to be governed by all. It is like water in Wuzhen - clean, for everybody, and interconnected.

The world community will face a huge challenge without international systematic governance of the Internet. It is not about who can manage it well, but rather there's a need for a governance by all countries.

Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Sam Cai, chief law researcher at Tencent Research Institute

It is only natural that technology will outpace regulation and it's a common case across the world... the government should do its homework; it must have a full understanding of the technology and the business model so that it can treat each case according to its specific conditions.

Most importantly, the government should shift its focus from supervision to management and let the market play the leading role in empowering small businesses.

Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Howard Michel, president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Discussions during the past three days have yielded significant results. It will certainly help us to find solutions and create a framework for Internet governance.

Technology must ensure that the Internet continues to develop and add value. But technology alone is not enough and we need policymakers to find solutions that offer quick fixes.

Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Fadi Chehadé, president of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

Some conflicts are emerging between the Internet and existing international systems and laws... The Internet respects no borders and its impacts are global. The real issue is to find common ground between the Internet and existing regulations. This is a big problem and we do not have any answers; we need to innovate and govern the Internet with technological innovation and new approaches.

2. Cloud computing

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Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Chen Liming, vice-president of IBM Global and chairman of IBM Greater China

Cloud computing is nothing like a race. We should look into the industry from a higher perspective and create an ecosystem which will bring benefits for all. Cloud-computing technologies should be applied in the daily management of cities to avoid deadly disasters.

AT&T worked with Mueller Water Products to install acoustic sensors in water pipes and used IBM's cloud computing technology to do data analysis to monitor the pipes and find problems in advance.

If that sort of technology can be widely applied to urban management, those tragic explosions in Tianjin and Qingdao might have been avoided, butcurrently many companies are not aware of big data and cloud computing's technological advantages, making it difficult for the technology to do what it can.

Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Shi Lirong, president of ZTE Corp

One of the reasons why big firms have not embraced cloud technologies is due to the security vulnerabilities. To address this, cloud-computing providers must come out with business models for various companies, including large, small and medium-sized enterprises and individuals.

Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Luo Dongping, CEO and co-founder of Hillstone Networks

As more companies move their business to the cloud, cloud computing is becoming a compelling trend. Innovation and technological transformation are critical in tackling the network security issues that face us today. All-dimensional visualization is another critical element of future network security solutions.

Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Liu Duo, vice-president of China Academy of Information and Communication Technology

The compound annual growth rate of cloud computing industry in China was about 35 percent, and it is expected to reach 46 percent this year, with the market size exceeding 10 billion yuan ($1.54 billion).

China’s top economic planner issued the guidance on cloud computing development on January 30 this year. Governmental departments have joined hands with third-party organizations to enhance supervision and information disclosure.

Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Rong Yongkang, vice-president of Amazon Web Services

Software and hardware providers in China are investing huge to extend their services to the cloud computing sector... They have invested 5 billion yuan ($771 million) into the sector, with a profit margin of 20 percent by the end of 2015. It is still at an early stage, but serves as a 'new normal’ in global IT industry.

3. Smart devices

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Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Robin Li, chief executive officer of Baidu Inc

Self-driving cars will be quite common on the roads in three to five years. More importantly, cars will be more like a computer on wheels, and people will be able to connect with each other through their cars.

Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Ma Huateng, chief executive officer of Tencent

Even brain-to-brain communication via an electroencephalogram (EEG) may be possible by wearing some devices.

Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Zhou Hongyi, chief executive officer of Qihoo 360 Technology

By connecting more than a billion people via smartphones, many innovative business models have mushroomed and drastically changed people's lives in China. But in the future — be it cars or wearable devices — all things can be connected to each other via the Internet. The more people we have, the more devices can be connected to the Internet, and the stronger and more powerful our Internet industry will be.

Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Michael Huth, Professor of Computer Science at Imperial College London

The Internet is extending its reach considerably with more small devices connecting to it; from body sensors and smart meters to light bulbs and gadgets in commercial aircraft passenger space.

4. New business mode in the Internet era

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Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Jia Yueting, chairman and CEO of LeTV Holdings Co Ltd

In the coming decade, China's Internet companies will lead the global economy into the Internet ecosystem era.

The leader of the Internet ecosystem should seamlessly integrate technology, culture and the Internet, creating new elements and new value.

The companies that will change the industry and the world will never be those who wait around for opportunities, but those that are like eagles, breaking the status quo and exploring possibilities freely.

Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group

The Internet is as basic as any resource such as water, electricity and is not a business model itself; it can only transform the future of the business landscape when it's combined with industries.

It is the united work by every participant in the industry that makes Nov 11 shopping carnival successful, when Alibaba's has seen record-breaking sales on its online retail platform Tmall. Added value should be applied to the services provided by the Internet.

Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Cheng Wei, CEO of Didi Kuaidi

It's now hard to imagine someone waiting for a taxi on a cold hazy winter day in Beijing without using a taxi-hailing app. The fiercer the competition, the better. There will be a long time for Didi and Uber to compete in the global market and learn from each other... We are working on our international strategy, aiming to build a global travel map of all Chinese people.

5. Internet standardization

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Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Qian Hualin, a researcher at China Network Information Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences

While universal standard is necessary to the development of Internet, excessively specific standard may hinder innovation. A good Internet standard in the 21st Century will be one that sets the basic rules so as to allow more space for free innovation.

Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Yang Xiaoya, International Telecommunication Union TSB

The work of setting Internet standards is also full of competition and only those that can come up with the best standard will survive.

Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Yang Zeming, secretary general of China Communications Standards Association

The Internet standards have contributed and will contribute a lot to the fast development of the Internet, and we are expected to see various standards making various contributions in the future.

6. Internet of Things (IoT)

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Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Zhou Hongyi, chairman of Qihoo 360 Technology Co Ltd

The Internet of Things is the best business opportunity in the next five years The Internet of Things (IoT) predicts the arrival of the real big data era. It is estimated that China has 1.5 to 2 billion phones today. In the future, there will be 30 to 50 billion devices shaping our life from quantitative changes to qualitative changes.

It is wrong to believe that the smartphone is the central hub of IoT, which does not rely on smartphones to remotely control other devices from cars to household appliances. Instead, the devices themselves, if they have an intelligent system, will be able to differentiate or substitute parts of the phone's function

Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Liu Qiangdong, CEO of

All products can be connected with the Internet, including vehicles, clothes and mobile phones. For example, delivery staff could be replaced by smart cars in logistics centers in the near future.

Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Zhang Yaqin, president of Baidu

In the past, our focus has been searching the right information for users anywhere. In the future, we want to interconnect the real world, connecting people to services.

Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet A venture capitalist who declined to be identified

Currently, domestic online food-ordering platforms are offering similar services in terms of partnered restaurants and delivery quality. Their differences are not big enough to lure customers away from competitors, so a powerful weapon is to launch a price war to vie for price-sensitive users.

So far, the strategy has worked... but winning market share purely through burning cash is not sustainable.

7. Cybersecurity

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Peeking into the crystal ball: Future of Internet Samuel Sinn, a cybersecurity service partner at PwC China

People are the weakest link in cybersecurity. The largest security gaps in many organizations are in management and culture, which are products of human communication, not technology.

The key for an organization to gain awareness is communicating with the entire organization regarding the threats that exist and the countermeasures that are available. Cybersecurity places a heavy emphasis on the judgment of individuals at all levels-particularly middle management.