Embarking on an incredible journey to the Internet Governance Forum 2023, hosted by the United Nations in Kyoto, Japan, was a dream come true. In this blog post, I will share my highlights from the event, shed light on key discussions, and discuss the impacts it had on me moving forward.
Immersive Openings and Engaging Sessions
The forum spanned across five days, designed to engage and inspire participants. The first day saw the grand opening, filled with captivating workshops and high-level discussions on cutting-edge topics such as AI, cybersecurity, and more.
Beyond the sessions, the booths area presented various opportunities to connect with companies, organizations, and youth groups advocating for their services and programs. Additionally, attendees had the chance to experience the traditional beauty of Japan through wearing traditional Japanese clothing and participating in the Japanese tea ceremony. The day ended the day with a loud celebration including fireworks and Japanese traditional performances.
Networking was another aspect of my experience at IGF 2023. I had the privilege to invite numerous individuals to our two sessions, AI-Driven Learning Revolution in Cambodian Higher Education and Accelerating an Inclusive Energy Transition. These sessions were the first ever session with Cambodians as the panelists in this international forum. I was glad to witness numerous participants that were interested in our topic.
Powerful Opening Ceremonies:
The opening ceremony of IGF 2023 was a momentous occasion, graced by esteemed individuals such as Prime Minister of Japan, Kishida Fumio, and Mr. Vint Cerf, the father of the internet himself. Their speeches underscored the pivotal role of the internet in our daily lives, emphasizing its impact on socio economic activities, development, health, and security. Importantly, they recognized the threats posed by misinformation and cybercrime, while calling for responsible policies and an inclusive approach to bridge the digital divide.
Talking with the Metaverse Resident:
In this session, I had the opportunity to meet with Nem, a popular YouTuber and a Metaverse resident. The session discussed the benefits of using the Metaverse for creative content creation, such as cost-effectiveness, the ability to escape reality, enhanced creativity through customizable appearances and backgrounds, and promoting gender diversity.
Benefits and Challenges of Immersive Realities:
One of the intriguing discussions revolved around the potential benefits and challenges presented by emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and immersive reality. We explored the need for common principles and values to guide their development, ensuring they align with human rights and ethical considerations. Transparency, accountability, and explainability were identified as crucial factors in their design and governance. The need to strike a balance between top-down and bottom-up approaches, focusing on global standards and value-based development, was identified as essential.
A Decade Later: Content Creation and Access to Open Information:
The conversation steered towards the importance of the users in shaping new technologies, addressing challenges related to managing user-generated content, connectivity, accessibility, and content distribution techniques. We delved into the significance of copyright frameworks in supporting content production, the need for closer coupling between network and content services, and the vital role of linguistic and cultural diversity in the streaming environment.
Facing Disinformation and Digital Marketing Realities:
The conversation shed light on the importance of considering local context when studying information in the global South, urging an understanding of the larger ecology of rights and struggles. Ethical safeguards, good practices in advertising, and risk analysis in marketing campaigns were highlighted to counterbalance the potential threats to journalism and free speech. The use of personal data by digital platforms for amplifying content necessitates regulatory measures and transparency to combat the dissemination of false and misleading information.
Mainstreaming Cyber Resilience and Development Agenda:
The discussion centered around cyber capacity building and its connection to development goals. Four key areas for prioritization were identified: strengthening the role of cyber resilience, fostering sustainable cyber capacity building, professionalizing cyber capacity building, and reinforcing the role of cyber resilience in development. Experts called for clear connections to be established between cyber resilience and sustainable development, sustained capacity building efforts on the ground, and involvement of legislators in training and resource allocation for cyber security.
Impressions of Japan:
Beyond the IGF 2023 proceedings, Japan left a lasting impression on me. The fast and accessible transportation, the pristine cleanliness pervading every corner, and the country’s dedication to showcasing its rich culture were remarkable. Lessons can be drawn from Japan’s soft power, incorporating cute merchandise, food, and cartoons as iconic symbols to attract international visitors.
Future Plans and Gratitude:
The IGF 2023 experience has reignited my passion for internet governance, pushing me towards participating in more forums and conferences to widen my knowledge and share it with others. I am inspired to establish a digital community to exchange insights on internet governance, generative AI, and content creation. I am immensely grateful to Open Development Cambodia (ODC) for granting me the opportunity to attend the event, covering my transportation and visa expenses. Their recognition of my efforts has propelled me towards expanding my international network and knowledge.