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Digital stars in spotlight at World Internet Conference

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-11-17 11:21

WUZHEN - Fifteen of the latest digital inventions, ranging from Tesla's autonomous vehicle to a new generation of semi-conductors, were on show on Wednesday at the third World Internet Conference (WIC) held in East China's Wuzhen, Zhejiang province.

The organizer, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), appointed a committee of 33 technologists from home and abroad to screen about 500 entries submitted by companies and research institutes over the past year, and select those which best represent current trends.

The organizers are promoting WIC as a premium platform for tech firms to display their latest achievements.

The WIC, running from Nov 16 to Nov 18 this year, is an annual meet of the world's tech firm bosses, academics, and government officials to discuss current Internet trends.

"The selection process was hard for us as judges because the technology develops very fast, and there were too many achievements," said Ni Guangnan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. "The fifteen chosen will have the widest implications on our lives."

Nine of the winners came from foreign companies, including Microsoft, Tesla and Qualcomm.

Microsoft's HoloLens, for instance, is a hologram-projecting visor that enables users to see three-dimensional digital controls and immerse themselves deeper in a digital environment. It overlays digital information on top of the real world to create a mixed reality, while interacting with holograms in mixed reality enables users to visualize and work with digital content as part of their real world.

"If we can change the way we see the world, we change the world as well," said Microsoft executive vice president Harry Shum as he wrapped up his speech.

Another presentation that wowed the audience was Tesla's autopilot 2.0 which found a parking space and parked itself.

By pressing the remote, the car drives itself out to meet the human "driver," said the company's vice president Robin Ren in a video demo. "I do this every day, and every time it is perfect."

What he did not mention was a fatal crash earlier this year involving a Tesla Model S 0n autopilot.

Ren defended the autonomous driving technology saying human error causes 94 percent of accidents. By using self-driving technology, most of these crashes can be avoided.

China catching up

Optic fiber specialist Wu Hequan, who chaired the committee, said compared with the West, China started late in digital technology research, but recent progress has been impressive. Among the Chinese winners was search engine Baidu's artificial intelligence (AI) creation Baidu Brain.

According to Baidu, the Brain is composed of advanced algorithms and super computing power, built on super-large scale neural networks. It is the nerve center of Baidu's autonomous car, facial and voice recognition, and robots that can compose and read poems or comment on a live football match.

The company's cloud computing will soon allow patients to consult a robot which can read basic medical reports and make diagnosis based on the huge amount of data it processes.

China has over 700 million Internet users and some of the world's leading tech companies. Most of them are exploring the new opportunities in AI, the Internet of Things, and virtual reality.

On the commercial front, China has bypassed most developed nations in popularizing e-commerce and social networking platforms.

The two leading enterprises Alibaba and Tencent that drove the progress were also selected for their technological achievements - Alibaba for its payment unit which handled more than 120 billion yuan ($17.8 billion) in the 24 hours of this year's Singles'Day online shopping festival.

Zhang Yong, the CEO of Alibaba, said the cloud computing system overcame the pressure of dealing with 170,000 orders and 120,000 payments in every second during the shopping bonanza.

"In the next three decades, there will be tremendous changes in human society," Alibaba's charismatic founder and board chairman Jack Ma said at WIC opening ceremony. "In the future, companies and nations which can make the best of big data and computing technology will be the champions."

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