WCIT 2019 Yerevan Summit (World Congress In Technology)

The WCIT 2019 Yerevan summit was a great success. The event brought together over 1,000 participants from more than 100 countries, and the discussions were lively and productive.

The summit resulted in the signing of several important agreements, including the Yerevan Declaration, which sets out the principles for the future development of the internet.

Overall, the WCIT 2019 Yerevan summit was an excellent opportunity for the international community to come together and discuss the future of the internet. As the internet continues to evolve, we all must work together to create a system that works for everyone.

What is WCIT (explained in this video)

Topics covered at the Yerevan summit WCIT 2019

Artificial IntelligenceE-HealthClimate Change
Internet of Things (IoT)E-CommerceSmart Cities
National Digital AgendasImpact of ICT in EducationStartups and Incubators
Digital Inclusion and EqualityFinTechConnecting the Next Billion
DecentralizationCybersecurityWomen in Technology

Where Did The WCIT 2019 Take Place?

Yerevan summit in Armenia was held at The World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) summit from October 6 to 9, 2019. An event that is one of the largest and most reputable ICT events in the world. The summit featured discussions and topics about the evolution of the Digital Age Era.

Who were the speakers of the WCIT 2019 Yerevan summit?

Gary VaynerchukAlexis OhanianKim Kardashian Gilbert VerdianMichael Christides
Jenny Bofinger-SchusterNina AchadjianCaroline WinnettJavier Garcia GomezRam Levi
Miguel CarrascoJulie TeiglandJamie MetzlCarolin T. SewardMikhail Mishustin
Dr. Yervant ZorianVahe TorossianVahe KuzoyanArthur VayloyanRajiv Ramaswami
Narayana MurthyJim PoissantDr. Steve ChanKatherine SarafianAlex Chung
Ivo BolsensEric BrendeVago MuradianMichelle DeBellaRaffi Krikorian
Tigran KhudaverdyanRobert GriffinAxel PawlikHovhannes AvoyanMalcolm Johnson
Dr. Garo H. ArmenOlga V. MackAram SargsyanAnke den OudenOliver Steil
Andrew W. WyckoffPeter BesharHenri ArslanianEllen ZimilesNeil Bansal
Dr. Mary A. Papazian

Welcome to Armenia

At the airport, a swarm of young volunteers in WCIT 2019 T-shirts were welcoming attendees, coordinating with the information desk set for the event.

White WCIT2019 flags and signs were all over the road to Yerevan, but some locals had still no clue what was going on. Even more confusing was what the Kardashian Klan had to do with it.

Meanwhile, rehearsals for the pre-opening were taking place the night before the ceremony, putting the city in a festive mood.

But on the day of the concert, high-level security measures were taken, with Republic square full of military and National Security officials, asking civilians to vacate, in order to fully secure the venue for the event.
Musicians of the WCIT Orchestra from all over the world, including Armenia, under the leadership of maestro Sergey Smbatyan, flew the audience on a tour around the world. Eventually.

Modern Techno music followed played by International award-winning Dj Armin Van Buuren until midnight, with fireworks that lit the sky of Yerevan.

What is WCIT and why was it brought to Armenia

The World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) 2019 is an information and communications technology (ICT) event.

2000 delegates from 70 countries, with over 31 sponsoring organizations, gathered at the 23ʳᵈ World Congress on IT, to discuss the evolution of the Digital Age, like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, smart cities to cybersecurity, climate change, etc…

The Power of Decentralization: Promise and Peril

On the first day of the congress, the prime minister reminded us that for ages Armenian minds have contributed to the technological revolution worldwide, implying that we have the DNA necessary for changing the world and becoming a more powerful and successful nation.

By investing our time and efforts into the use of Information Technology we would achieve more and better results, in shaping a more intelligent future generation.

First keynote speaker

Richard A. Clarke, a high-ranking American National Security expert, spoke about how technology changed the lives of humans, with machines and gadgets that made life easier and more practical.

Moreover, he described how during the Cyber revolution era, Information Technology linked everybody everywhere, and discreetly invaded countries, homes, businesses, and institutions.

Quoting William Gibson’s book “Neuromancer”, Clarke explained how governments and companies had to adapt to the imminent change in order to avoid disasters; such as cyber-attacks that caused collateral damages, coming to the conclusion that information in the wrong hands is lethal.

Furthermore, Mr. Clarke explained, that we have become “Digital Citizens”, because: “Individuals with cameras on their phones, Twitter accounts, blogs, and podcasts can be as important as reporters from major newspapers.

Their individual reporting can shape the world, can expose corruption expose brutality and people abusing human rights”.

Another positive aspect of the internet is that it has enabled people to start their own businesses in the comfort of their homes, and helped them market their products globally.

However, the speaker warned The Armenian Government that they have to train people in coding so that they can become economic powerhouses, and not be left behind in a world so evolving; simultaneously, educating people to be aware of dangerous cyber and hacking attacks and how to respond to them.

According to the ex- white house advisor, machine learning has uncovered facts and patterns like racism and sexism, and other things that hold us back as humans. That is why Governments need to introduce ethics and moral standards so that we control cyberspace and not let it control mankind.

Moreover, with the help of quantum computing solving what was thought to be impossible or took thousands of years would be easier and take a shorter time, but again we have to be careful not to totally depend on machines.

The Rise of the Machines

The 1st-panel discussion was participation by keynote speaker Narayana Murthy, Indian IT industrialist and co-founder of Infosys, with panelists business analyst from CNN Richard Quest, Daniel Hulme, Dr. Christopher Markou, James Bridle, and Director of civil liberties at TechFreedom Ashkhen Kazaryan.

The Panelists argued if the progress in technology is a blessing or a curse. “Any progress is a blessing for the prepared minds and a curse for the unprepared minds”.

Highlighting the importance of educating the public to use Artificial Intelligence to live a better life, but simultaneously avoid disasters like poverty, crime, and wars.

The world would be a dark and disconnected place without technology; therefore, technology has made life more comfortable for human beings as long as they put it to good use. The poor need it because it reduces costs and makes more gadgets.

AI provides access to information easily, giving accurate results, but it depends on theories put by humans. Humans have to realize that AI might be taking away their jobs with automated systems.

In Medicine Ai is reducing human errors, with 99% accuracy in medical predictions, helping do less biopsy, less expense, and debt, but what would happen to the medical jobs?

Data is the new oil, but we should set guidelines so that it doesn’t cause wars like the oil industry and kill people. New jobs will replace old useless jobs, like in transportation, when drivers were replaced with automated systems, but will there be enough jobs replacing old ones?

People have the right to work, and to survive, therefore, the future of work and AI should be regulated. Should the solutions be found now or when it’s already on the way?

Should we prepare now or wait 20 years? Are we prepared for these changes? So many jobs have already been replaced with automated systems. We should beware of autonomous programs so that they don’t make wrong decisions or conclusions like in the case of weapons.

TechFreedom Ashkhen Kazaryan spoke about social media, which connects us, and where we express and oppose. Regulations should help us but not prevent us. We should learn and be educated about how systems work.

Society should be included as one of the shareholders in all decisions.

Second Panel discussion

An opening note from Jeremy Metzl, Richard Quest, Dr. Garo Armen, Daniel Hulme, Anya Shaykhutdinova, and Valeriy Ilinsky, who spoke about the evolution and Augmented Humanity and enhancements.

Jeremy Metzl explained how through the ages, humans have evolved and made enhancements to their lives and bodies just to make their lives easier and more comfortable.

Eyesight greatly affected the lives of people who wouldn’t have survived, in the past, it would’ve made coping very hard, but nowadays we use eyeglasses, which means we have enhanced our vision. Using eyeglasses or pacemakers, or being vaccinated.

Having implants means we have already accepted being Cyborg and having superpowers help us survive sicknesses that our ancestors couldn’t have survived.

How do we use all the enhancements to benefit but not harm human lives, what is considered natural nowadays? This means we need to be more educated, and more developed, but should we be scared?

And should we speed change? A couple that is deaf, should they enhance the hearing of their child if it is deaf? Who gets to decide? Should we use a molecular enhancement to cure cancer?

In some countries, agriculture is so ahead of other places, that there might be a 2000-year gap between agriculture in China and other places. Nature has helped us in evolving food, that have in turn enhanced our bodies.

We have accepted various enhancements in our bodies, like vaccines, operations, implants, and medicine, but would we accept chips to be inserted in our bodies? We have adapted to tools before.

Do we need chips? People in villages wouldn’t need chips and technology while people in advanced cities might need them to improve their way of life. Those who travel a lot with different passports might want to have all their info inserted in one chip that would make their movement easy.

Should body enhancement be regulated? But on what principles, ethical systems should affect in decision-making, is it a crime if we let people die of genetic disease or dementia, is it a crime against potential? how best do we embrace to optimize benefits?

“Every time a little kid dies of a terrible genetic disease – that is a crime against human potential.”
Genomics and Geopolitical author and commentator Jamie Metzl

Garik Israelian, Astrophysics and Starmus Festival and Bryan May

Distinguished Speakers Series, Dr. Garik Israelian, Armenian-Spanish astrophysicist, and scientist.

He led the team which found the first observational evidence that supernova explosions are responsible for the formation of stellar-mass black holes. He spoke about astronomical discoveries, machines utilized, problems, and solutions.

He presented the Starmus, a global Festival of science communication, and art that brings together the most brilliant minds on the planet.

Their aim is to inspire and educate the next generation of explorers and regenerate the spirit of discovery. Combining art, music, and science to enhance science communication, and engage humanity in the biggest questions in our time.

They are financed through sponsors who buy special edition Omega watches and the Stephen Hawking Medal. Musical festivals have been in collaboration with Bryan May the famous guitarist of British Rock Band Queen, and many more Artists like Actors, moviemakers, etc…

Digital Transformation and Government Administration

Mikhail Mishustin, Head of the Federal Tax Service of Russia, the Keynote Speaker on the Law & Regulation of ICT.

The panel with Axel Pawlik, Francesca Lagerberg, Oxana Balayan Christopher Markou, and Olga Mack,
discussed Digital Transformation and Government Administration.

How nowadays anyone can start a billion-dollar business and even sometimes not visible to regulators, and how the economy of countries is changing with professional jobs lost to artificial intelligence, e-payment systems bypassing banking financial systems, and cryptocurrencies surfacing.

Are regulators prepared for these challenges, should there be taxes imposed by the government on Digital works? Governments should transform into digital service providers, needing more tax regulators but they are suffering in setting these rules.

Should we be afraid of the new system or learn how to cope? The Declaration of Independence of Cyber Space, in Silicon Valley, was based on the dream of keeping the governments out.

President of UATE, Armenia, Alexander Yesayan had said earlier, “We are very proud to have a well-known dignitary such as Mr. Mishustin on this panel to give an important perspective on such a crucial matter in the modern world of technology”.

Where are We Going with Animation? Pixar and Catherine Sarafian

The first part was with Katherine Sarafian and moderator James Brittle 1 on 1 chat.
How do tech help artists and creators produce arts of all kinds produce new fascinating beautiful works? What impact does tech actually have in this process?

Pixar is a nice example of the interplay between art and technology. But what was the trigger behind creating such a company that replaced human-drawn animation.

According to Katherine Sarafian, all the innovation and interrelation is about humans and their intelligence, who are talented in tech and still cooperate with traditional artists.

You have to tell stories, in a way that people don’t ask how it is made pixel by pixel but they remember the good story behind it. Art Transcending technology because every movie has a story that needs to be told, it doesn’t matter what medium is used to tell it.

Like the movie inside out where emotions are embodied in characters, personified sadness and joy, and especially abstract thoughts.

Staff who create these animated movies include sculptors, clay sculptors, pencil and pastel artists, software developers, animators, designers’ riggers, on shades garments, moves, musicians, artists, cinema makers, and voice actors. The performance comes from the union of all of these people united.

This kind of work encourages students to go to different types of art schools, and in turn colleges, schools, and universities have also created courses that would help the students specialize in one of these domains.
What new things are we going to see? New looks, better, new techniques, cooler, new challenges, making art better. We should push for new distinguished works that would excite 7-year-olds to watch and ask for more.

The Panel Discussion

15 minutes later they were joined by the last panel members, Ahmed al Gamal, Eric Esraelian, Marian Mazzoni, and Sergey Smpatyan, discussing what does art teaches technology along the way.

Why usually arts and tech are divided? Should the education system change to unite the two in some cases?

Sergey Smpatyan explained what it means the orchestra played AI composed concert.

AI was not in the music modeling, musicians were switched onto the iPad, and started reading notes given by the AI, the key task being the measure of Armenian music played by AI in real-time, translated through creating algorithms.

This means the music notes were generated through the AI and generated a real-time visual display.
The platform that made this possible was developed by Ahmad Al Gamal, called Platform, it works in partnership between the artist and AI, still controlled by the Artist.

Eric Esraelian explained that Armenian Art is affected so much by the Armenian Genocide, so in his opinion, it is hard to be understood by AI. One word could be Inflammatory or not, but understanding cultural nuances is hard for AI because they are sensitive.

Marian Mazzoni agreed, “Like the human heart that is not computable”.

Katherine Sarafian stated that Art and Tech blended together, will give such great regard, and it has affected Pixar movies greatly. Ahmad al Gamal also reminded us that Galileo and Da Vinci were artists and Scientists simultaneously.

Technology in service of a more Civilized and God-Fearing Armenia

The World Congress on Information Technology WCIT2019 Yerevan kicked off on Monday 7 October 2019, at the Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concert Complex “Hamalir”, in Yerevan.

High-ranking Government officials, Technology experts, speakers, attendees, and participants were present at the official opening ceremony at the “Hamalir” which was built in 1983 with a capacity of hosting 12,000 guests and is considered the largest venue in Armenia.

Famous English technology journalist Munty Manford welcomed the guests to the Center, Armenia. He introduced the co-founder of UCOM, Alex Yessayan to the stage, a young entrepreneur who started his first tech company in 1998 at the age of 16, promoting the IT sector in Armenia.

Alex Yessayan welcomed the huge crowd to the conference considering it a big dream, that came true in association with UATE CEO Karen Vartanyan.

They had presented a bid in 2014 showing the “power of decentralization” theme to the committee of the WITSA-The World Information Technology and Services Alliance.

Next to speak was Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan who welcomed the crowd, calling it a proud moment to be hosting such a great Informational Congress in Armenia.

He said there wouldn’t have been able to realize a revolution without decentralization, that is without the influence and permission of the old government, just with a personal initiative. The Revolution that put Armenia on the international map of Democracy.

He reminded that the Technology exports and Tourism sectors have granted the Armenian Economy a rise of 7 %. He said his main intention is to change Armenia into a much more civilized, and God-fearing country.

He named survivors of the Armenian Genocide who invented essential tech tools that made our modern-day lives much easier. He added that a Tech Ministry has been newly established, whose main intention is to improve education and the IT sector in Armenia.

Consecutively Monty introduced the Chairman of World Information Technology and Services Alliance-WITSA, Miss Yvonne Chu, and James Poissant, the Secretary-General of WITSA. Miss Chu welcomed the crowd to the 23rd WCIT in 2019.

She thanked the government of the Republic of Armenia, Mr. Pashinyan in particular for his full support, in addition to Minister of High Tech industry Arshagyan and the hard-working managing team of the event.
She stated that information and communication technology has a huge impact on everyone, so it must be available for everyone. Moreover, governments who commit, benefit from ICT and must encourage the community to realize the importance of ICT especially to prevent war.

She finished with “Shnorhagaloutiun, Yes Siroum em Hayastane”. James Poissant, the responsible person for the day-to-day operations of the global alliance, which consists of more than 80 countries and represents 90 % of the ICT industry worldwide.

She mentioned that the preopening night concert was the most spectacular night in their 41 years of history.

He proclaimed the 23rd WCIT Officially open. He invited participants in beautiful Yerevan, to discuss the impact, challenges, and opportunities, building the promise of the digital age and benefitting from it.

Live – Opening Ceremony Armin Van Buuren and Sergey Smbatyan

Opening Ceremony of WCIT 2019

6-9 October 2019 marks an important date for Armenia. Yerevan is the host of the 2019 World Congress on Information Technology.

Distinguished guest speakers, game-changers, entrepreneurs, and IT leaders are headed to Yerevan’s Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concert Complex to discuss: The Power of Decentralization: Promise and Peril.

In a press release from Yerevan, titled: “WCIT 2019: At the intersection of innovation, technology, and talent”, the WCIT 2019 Yerevan Public Relations Team circulated a press release inviting the public to the opening ceremony of WCIT 2019 on the 6th of October 2019.

The concert will be held at Republic Square, “blending human and computer talent” featuring DJ Armin Van Buuren accompanied by musicians from all over the world in the WCIT Orchestra, and under the leadership of maestro Sergey Smbatyan.

Official Press Release:

Press Release

WCIT2019: At the intersection of innovation, technology, and talent
On the evening of October 6, Yerevan’s iconic Republic Square will set the scene for the opening ceremony of WCIT2019. Spectators will be treated to an unprecedented concert blending human and computer talent like never before.
The orchestra was created to perform for the first time at the WCIT2019 opening ceremony.
Grammy award-winning DJ Armin Van Buuren will perform. The orchestra musicians are already arriving in Armenia (video). The main rehearsal for the performance will be on October 5.

The WCIT Orchestra, composed of musicians from 15 countries, which have hosted the forum in the past 40 years will perform on stage the music composed by AI in real-time. The orchestra will have 100 musicians, including 30 from Armenia. The participating host nations include Canada, the Netherlands, Malaysia, the United States, Greece, Taipei, Spain, Japan, France, Denmark, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, and India.

The concert will be performed under the baton of Maestro Sergey Smbatyan, the Artistic Director, and Principal Conductor of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra. The Orchestra will be accompanied by an AI software programmed to incorporate the musical DNA of all 15 countries, including uniquely Armenian compositions. Renowned Armenian composer Aram Khachaturyan’s most acclaimed composition, The Sabre Dance, will be brought into the digital age, with awe-inspiring 3D mapping projected onto Republic Square.

“Initially, we have intended to make the IT World Congress in Yerevan an unforgettable and
remarkable event: this is one of the surprises we have prepared for the international
community to show the Armenian innovative thought. As it is known, the music will be
composed by artificial intelligence, which we call artificial talent. We prove that the center of the world is where there is talent and innovation, in this particular case in Yerevan’s heart, in the Republic Square,” said the president of the Union of Advanced Technology Enterprises (UATE), Alexander Yesayan.
“It is considered that technologies distance people. With the creation of the WCIT global
orchestra, we break that stereotype: the orchestra unites musicians from different countries providing a new platform for communication. Both music and technologies contribute to
this union as a means of communication. As a rule, world orchestras are formed around an
idea. By the creation of the WCIT orchestra, the IT world highlights the power of art and music. Thus, the IT world promotes the development of classical music,” said Artistic
Director, and Principal Conductor of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra Sergey Smbatyan.

The ceremony will conclude with the hypnotic sound of world-class musical innovator Armin Van Buuren. His show will be accompanied by psychedelic visual effects. Armin Van Buuren is a Grammy-winning DJ and record producer, whose unique mixes are credited with erupting trance music into a global sensation. Van Buuren’s heavy schedule includes headlining at over 150 concerts per year. He also leads some of the world’s biggest festivals, including Electric Daisy Carnival, Ultra Music Festival, and Tomorrowland.
WCIT 2019 will be held in Yerevan on October 6-9, 2019. The Congress is hosted by Armenia with the support and under the high patronage of the Government of the Republic of Armenia. The World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) was established by the
World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA). Its main organizing body is
the Union of Advanced Technology Enterprises (UATE).

Araz Tavitian

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