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Change The World — My Remarks to PolyU Congregation Ceremony

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I had the honor of giving the congratulatory remarks at the Congregation Ceremony for the Master Degree graduates of the Department of Computing of the
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Faculty of Engineering of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University this afternoon. Tonight, I also gave another remarks to the "outpost" graduates among this class from cities in China like Xian and Suzhou. Let me share with you my remarks, with the original in English and the translated version in Chinese also, below: Professor Wai, guests, members of the Faculty, parents and most of all, the graduates, It is my distinct honor today to make this congratulatory remark to you, the graduating class from the Department of Computing, on this special day of the Congregation ceremony. It was twenty-four years ago when I myself graduated from university, and honestly speaking, the commencement speech at that time was the last thing I remember from the occasion. Nonetheless, the Congregation ceremony and this address should affirm each of your search for knowledge, confirm the effort and the achievement by each of you, and hopefully, inspire you to continue to make yourself a better man or woman, to contribute to society, your family and your country. Today, as you receive your degree from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Computing, a field of study that is among the most rapidly advancing among all areas of technologies, you are facing limitless possibilities to shape the future, to create opportunities for yourselves and others. Twenty-seven years ago, when I first logged on to the Internet in my first year of college, and sent my first email, I could not have imagined how the Internet would change the world as it has now. Just imagine what the Internet and computing would be like, five years, ten years, or twenty years from now. Just imagine! And you will be right in the middle of this continuous, great evolution. Two years ago, former U.S. President Bill Clinton gave a graduation address to the class of 2007 of Harvard University. He said, “Ordinary people have more power to do public good than ever before because of the rise of non-governmental organizations, because of the global media culture, because of the Internet, which gives people of modest means the power, if they all agree, to change the world.” This is the world that we are in today. “Ordinary people” are now having more power to do “public good” than ever before. Public good, not just for the good of themselves, but for the public, for everyone. And this is because of three things. The rise of non-government organizations. That means NGOs, including all sorts of groups and institutions from civil society, non-commercial and non-governmental organizations, including professional associations. The global media culture, enabled by the Internet, where people can create, share, remix and re-use content and messages to reach and touch people from all corners of the Earth. And because of these developments, people of modest means, even average people, can change the world. But there is one catch: only “if they all agree.” You have to agree to have the will and the spirit to join the movement, to change our world. And there is no better way to help change the world than through the development in the advances and applications of information technology, computing and the Internet. In another graduation speech given at Harvard University, also in 2007 but this time by Bill Gates, who was of course the founder of Microsoft but also the Chairman of his charitable foundation. He said, “The emergence of low-cost personal computers gave rise to a powerful network that has transformed opportunities for learning and communicating. The magical thing about this network is not just that it collapses distance and makes everyone your neighbor. It also dramatically increases the number of brilliant minds we can have working together on the same problem - and that scales up the rate of innovation to a staggering degree.” He went on to say, “At the same time, for every person in the world who has access to this technology, five people don't. That means many creative minds are left out of this discussion - smart people with practical intelligence and relevant experience who don't have the technology to hone their talents or contribute their ideas to the world. We need as many people as possible to have access to this technology, because these advances are triggering a revolution in what human beings can do for one another.” And what will this revolution be about? It will be about the biggest threats facing human beings – they are: poverty, sickness, and the environment. So, as you graduate today, I hope I can give you a little spark to ignite your passion for using your mind to change the world with what you know. In fact, as the motto of our Internet Society Hong Kong goes, “Ask not what the Internet can do for you, but ask what you can do for the Internet.” I thank you, the Computing Class of 2009, in advance for the contribution you will be making in the years to come in changing Hong Kong, changing our country, and changing the world. Congratulations again on your graduation. 衛教授、各位嘉賓、工程學院仝人、各位家長及畢業生︰ 在今天畢業典禮的重要日子,給各位,尤其為今屆電子計算學系的畢業生致祝賀辭,是我莫大榮幸。 回想起我二十四年前大學畢業時,誠然,那時的典禮演詞我早已遺忘。但是,我相信畢業典禮的意義當能為你們追求學問以及種種努力成果作出肯定,也勉勵你們繼續努力,做好自己,為家庭、社會和國家作出貢獻。 今天,當你們取得香港理工大學的碩士學位,電子計算實在是一個發展最一日千里的科技範疇之一,你們正面對無限可能,創造將來,為自身、他人創造機會。二十七年前,當我初次登入互聯網,發出第一個電子郵件,實在難以想像互聯網會為今天的世界帶來翻天覆地的轉變。試想像,互聯網及電子計算科技發展在五年後、十年後,甚至二十年後會變成怎樣?你們正身處於這個變革不斷的年代。 兩年前,前美國總統克林頓為哈佛大學二零零七年畢業生發表畢業演說,他說過︰「正因為非政府機構的出現、全球媒體文化和互聯網的興起,給一般人賦予力量,只要他們都普遍同意,就能改變世界。普羅大眾比從前更有力量從事對公眾有益的事。」 這正是我們現今身處的世界。「普羅大眾」比從前更有力量從事「對公眾有益的事」。對公眾有益的事,不但為了個人,也惠及公眾以及所有人。這包含了三個原因。其一為非政府機構的出現,這裏包括公民社會中所有非牟利、非政府、專業機構和團體。其二為全球媒體文化的興起,讓人可以透過互聯網,創造、交流、重組各種資訊,影響無遠弗屆。正因如此,即使普通人也能改變世界。值得留意的是,這裏假設人們都普遍同意並願意參與其中共同改變世界 要改變世界,實在沒有比互聯網、電子計算及資訊科技更理想的工具。於另一個哈佛大學二零零七年畢業典禮的場合中,身為微軟創辦人及其慈善組織主席的比爾•蓋茨,曾經這樣說過︰「低成本個人電腦以至互聯網的出現,為學習和交流提供更多機會。互聯網的神奇之處,不但在於其打破地域界限,使天涯若比鄰,也在於它能集思廣益,讓人們為共同目標而努力,使革新的步伐以驚人的速度前進。」 「與此同時,能夠接觸互聯網世界的人,只有全球人口的六分之一。這意味著許多具創見的人被這個世界拒門外——有能力和相關經驗的人,卻沒有得到科技的幫助,把他們的才華或想法與世界分享。我們希望更多人能接觸互聯網,因其正引發一場革命,人類將因此可以互相幫助。」這場革命所為何事?它正與人類所面對最大的威脅——貧窮、疾病和環境問題有關。 因此,在今天畢業典禮的大日子,我希望能夠燃起大家的熱情,運用自己的創見和力量來改變世界,就正如香港互聯網協會的格言所述︰「不問互聯網能給你所做的,該問自己能為互聯網做些甚麼。」 二零零九年電子計算學系的畢業生,日後你們將為改變香港、國家以至世界的未來作出貢獻,在此我要感謝你們,並恭祝各位鵬程萬里。
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