agenda
agenda
Be ready to participate in a life-changing event, enlarge your network and see the beauty of the IT community.

The WCIT is based on four main pillars: speeches, exhibitions, B2B meetings, and social events. These afford a unique opportunity.

Sergey Smbatyan Armin van Buuren

Armin van Buuren together with ASSO will perform the famous "Intense" composition.

OCT 6

Pre-Opening Celebration

Welcome to Yerevan!

WCIT 2019 will begin with a pre-opening concert in Republic Square by the WCIT Orchestra, featuring a world first performance of AI music composed in real time and a collaboration between the Orchestra and the international superstar D.J. Armin Van Buuren.

  • OCT 7
  • OCT 8
  • OCT 9
    • 8:00 - 9:00 am

      Registration and Breakfast

    • 9:00 - 9:45 am

      Opening Ceremony

    • 9:45 - 10:45 am

      WCIT 2019 Keynote Address

      WCIT 2019 Keynote Address

      Following the opening keynote speech, Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian will conduct an intimate converstion with the keynote speaker. 

    • 10:45 - 11:00 am

      Break

    • 11:00 am - 12:15 pm

      Rise of the Machines

      Rise of the Machines

      Big Data, AI and machine learning offer the promise of peerless insight and efficiency, and robotics the promise of freedom from physically dangerous or taxing manual labor, all in ways never before imaginable.

      But at what price?  The widespread deployment of increasingly sophisticated Big Data, AI and robotic systems such as driverless vehicles threatens to render entire categories of workers redundant by automation. Big Data and AI systems also threaten to distort the human decision-making process, subordinating the role of human judgment.

      Should the cold logic of hard data be the master of human systems?  What room will remain for judgment, morality and compassion?  How much authority and decision-making are we willing to cede to machines?  Where will we draw the ethical and practical line in the application of Big Data and AI in areas such as medicine where compassion and morality ought to reign over clinical statistics?  How do we avoid being ruled by Big Data?  How do we control AI systems already so complex that no single person can understand them, and keep them from going rogue and turning on us?

    • 12:15 - 12:45 pm

      Lightning Round

      Lightning Round

      WCIT-Yerevan will host three sets of lightning rounds showcasing flash-forward technologies from start-ups, big companies, universities, and more! Open to all.

    • 12:45 - 1:45 pm

      Lunch

    • 1:45 - 3:00 pm

      Black Swan

      Black Swan

      Expediency and technological path dependence have led us to place substantial portions of the critical infrastructure that we depend upon to make contemporary civilization possible on complex and open technological systems such as the public internet. Just-in-time distribution and smart logistical chains built on complex technological infrastructures all offer and are delivering on the promise of efficiency and expediency never before imaginable. We take for granted that these systems will continue to function without interruption. But they have never been as exposed and vulnerable as they are today, posing an existential threat aimed at every level of society, from national, provincial and local governments to business enterprises to institutions of civil society to private individuals. Yet this fragility is inexcusably underappreciated. And we have dispensed with “analog” backups and fail-safes in favor of technological ones, becoming even further reliant on automated systems just as we prepare to double down with the advent of “smart cities” and “smart nations.”

      The time has come to ask: are we doing the kind of hard-nosed vulnerability assessments of our increasingly complex and fragile infrastructure systems that the historical moment calls for?  How do we build fault-tolerant technological and human systems that can withstand or help us recover from catastrophic failures caused by “black swan” and “perfect storm” events?  How do we do smart risk management in a world of sudden, unseeable and unforeseeable threats?

    • 3:00 - 3:45 pm

      Distinguished Speakers Series

    • 3:45 - 4:00 pm

      Break

    • 4:00 - 5:15 pm

      Bare Metal Innovators

      Bare Metal Innovators

      Meet some of the tech leaders who make the physical machines that power the revolution without whose imagination, creativity and grit the disrupters would have no hardware on which to run their dreams. Hear their thoughts about the current state-of-the-art, what's coming over the horizon, and how they plan to address the rising challenges of big data, blockchain and AI, miniaturizing process technology, parallelization, optimization, low-power technology, and purpose-built silicon for machine learning and deep learning.

    • 5:15 - 6:30 pm

      Special Sessions: Choose One (Law, Business Interrupted)

      Special Sessions: Choose One (Law, Business Interrupted)
      • Law & Regulation of ICT

        We explore how analog law and regulation can keep pace with the ever-changing realities of a tech world that moves at digital speed. How can proactive, smart law and regulation help us better navigate through the troubled waters of IP piracy, invasions of privacy, cybersecurity threats and the balkanization of the worldwide digital space?

      • Business Interrupted

        Advances in technology are shifting the way in which companies reach their markets and interact with customers. Indeed, the scale and depth of reliance by business on technology has even begun for some to blur the line that distinguishes "tech companies" from traditional, non-tech companies. Our panel of business leaders discusses the integration of technology into their business models, how these implementations have transformed industries, and what it takes to use technology to respond to the needs of customers and other corporate constituencies.

    • 6:30 - 7:45 pm

      Special Sessions: Choose One (CIOs, Financial Innovation)

      Special Sessions: Choose One (CIOs, Financial Innovation)
      • CIOs' Message to the Industry 

        Our panel of CTOs and CIOs provide understanding and insight into the critical challenges they face as they anticipate and address the needs of their companies and customers, and consider how the ICT industry can best meet the needs of the enterprises they manage. Come listen and learn.

      • Financial Innovation

        Financial technology promises to revolutionize cross-border money transfer and financial intermediation, creating the possibility of practically frictionless transactional networks.

        Yet systemic and technological path dependence, the threats of money laundering and terrorist financing, heavy-handed regulatory responses by governments, the reflex to defend competitive advantage, culture and habit, remain stubborn obstacles to delivering on that promise.

        What is the financial services industry doing to meet these challenges?  Talk aside, is the industry truly harnessing the power of the tech ecosystem and its startup ethos?

    • 7:45 - 10:00 pm

      Reception

    • 8:00 - 9:00 am

      Breakfast

    • 9:00 - 9:30 am

      Special Speaker Presentation: Gary Vaynerchuk

      Special Speaker Presentation: Gary Vaynerchuk

      Hear from a social media and marketing maven who grew a wine empire and then created an empire on leadership and motivational speaking.

    • 9:30 - 10:45 am

      Special Sessions: Choose One (Ministerial Roundtable, Smart Cities)

      Special Sessions: Choose One (Ministerial Roundtable, Smart Cities)
      • Ministerial Roundtable

        National digital transformations offer the promise of more open and responsive government, more efficient delivery of public services and greater private sector innovation and economic growth. The most developed digital nations have in common a comprehensive, long-term vision and intelligently designed and competently administered national digital plans suited to their cultures, political and social constitutions, geographies, sizes and economic circumstances.

        Yet successfully navigating this transformation remains an elusive goal for many nations large and small, due to poor planning and execution. A rising tide of increasingly intrusive national rules governing cross-border data flows, e-commerce and social media, and the sequestration of data behind private membership networks is leading to a great digital divide, a balkanization of the worldwide digital space, frustrating the greater good that can come from national digital transformations.

        What lessons do the successful nations have to teach about what to do and what not to do in managing national digital transformations?  How do we keep from making mistakes and wasting billions?  How do we keep the digital world from balkanizing and to the extent this cannot be prevented, how do we minimize the impact?

      • Mayoral Roundtable: Smart Cities

        Smart cities and social credit schemes exploiting integrated information and communications technologies and the advent of IoT devices offer the promise of optimized public services and more harmonious societies.

        But smart cities and social scoring are predicated on perpetual surveillance and can lead to near-total control over the activities of daily life. At what price to human freedom and dignity these promises of a brighter tomorrow?  How do we ensure that these utopian solutions are not misused by governments and non-governmental actors alike, whatever their motives?  Would we want to live in a society in which individual autonomy, individual choice, and even individual personality are stifled in the name of expediency efficiency or social justice? 

        Our select panel of distinguished world city mayors, urban planners, and infrastructure developers explores how to leverage ICT to more efficiently and effectively provide city-dwellers with such comprehensive public services as transportation, security, education, and voter engagement while striking the balance between the technological promises of a brighter tomorrow and the freedom, privacy and dignity of their citizenry.

    • 10:45 - 11:00 am

      Break

    • 11:00 am - 12:15 pm

      Marketplace of Ideas

      Marketplace of Ideas
      We explore how decentralized technology has disintermediated the entertainment, media, and journalism worlds—from disseminating art and information to creating new stars. What do these developments mean for personal privacy, trust in institutions, and new business models?
    • 12:15 - 12:45 pm

      Lightning Round

      Lightning Round

      WCIT-Yerevan will host three sets of lightning rounds showcasing flash-forward technologies from start-ups, big companies, universities, and more! Open to all.

    • 12:45 - 1:45 pm

      Lunch

    • 1:45 - 3:00 pm

      Special Sessions: Choose One (Defense, Healthcare)

      Special Sessions: Choose One (Defense, Healthcare)
      • Defense, Information and Cyber Warfare in an Age of Disinformation

        Technology has worked a revolution in the ways we communicate and manage society. It has democratized access to mass communication and empowered individuals to influence their fellow citizens and the world in unprecedented and genuinely transformative ways. At the same time, complex and open technological networks form the backbone of our infrastructure facilitating structural efficiencies in distribution, power transmission and other critical systems.

        But this confluence of historical developments has rendered open societies uniquely vulnerable to manipulation by adversarial powers. It has also made civil societies, even in peacetime, a theatre for competition or even low intensity warfare in the information battlespace. Social media has become a powerful tool to influence not just populations but also national security decisionmakers, civilian and military. The management of critical infrastructure over open public networks exposes those systems to attack or manipulation as well.

        We explore what intelligence, information technology and cyber warfare capabilities are needed in an age of sophisticated tactical and strategic disinformation that operates not just in the military space but increasingly in the political, economic and social spaces.

      • Healthcare: Impact in Two Hemispheres

        Technology promises significant and broad-reaching impact in healthcare. For the developed world, ICT offers the promise of superior patient experiences, treatments and outcomes at lower cost. For the developing world, ICT promises to liberate billions from lack of access to healthcare by bringing specialty medicine to even the most remote corners of the world.

        Yet digitization exposes the most sensitive and private health information to potential misuse by healthcare companies, governments and criminals. The widespread use of healthcare AI systems risks reducing healthcare decision-making to a cold exercise of data manipulation minimizing the human element everywhere. Meanwhile, in the developing world cultural roadblocks stand in the way of the good even the most sophisticated ICT-based health systems can do.

        Where will we draw the line in the application of ICT medicine, where compassion and morality are as important as clinical statistics?  How can ICT help the developing world overcome the cultural barriers that stand in the way of better health outcomes?

      • Ministerial Closed Session

        Designing and Executing an Effective ICT Blueprint for National Transformation

        All Ministers of Information and Communications Technology are invited to participate in an interactive closed ministerial workshop. The objective of the session is to develop a blueprint for common benchmarks which would apply to all countries.

        As a result of the session, WCIT-Yerevan will produce a communique by ministers issued to media worldwide. Ongoing dialogues for each country will be facilitated online after the conference to refine further for each country using a new consensus-building digital platform.

    • 3:00 - 3:45 pm

      Distinguished Speakers

    • 3:45 - 4:00 pm

      Break

    • 4:00 - 5:15 pm

      Art

      Art
      No field of human endeavor is beyond the power of technology to make and remake. Be they the static arts or the performing arts, the fine arts or pop art, no corner of the art world remains untouched, too.

      Art is classically defined as the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination. Until now, technology has been a powerful tool in the hands of the artist making new art forms possible and transforming the way old art forms are practiced. It has empowered creativity by freeing the artist from the constraints of the medium and introducing a means of expression of ultimate plasticity, and by making available a practically infinite database of creative models, ideas and forms to inform and facilitate the creative process of making art. However, technology has grown so sophisticated now that it has taken the technical skill and craft out of art, and the dawn of AI-created art threatens to make the artist himself merely a tool.

      Since the dawn of man when the first artist dared to paint figures on the walls of a cave, the capacity to make art has helped define what it means to be human. Now machines are about to upend that understanding. What are the cultural, social, intellectual and even political consequences of machine-made art?  What will its effects be on the artistic traditions and cultural histories of entire nations and peoples; on our cultural memory and our very capacity to be creative in the face of overpowering synthetic intelligences; on the verisimilitude and relevance of art itself; on our sense of ourselves as humans?  Will it be necessary to even rethink the classical definition of art?  We explore what it means to be creative and thus human in the dawning age of intelligent machines.

    • 5:15 - 6:30 pm

      Disruption Delusion

      Disruption Delusion
      Automation; AI; Big Data; the “killer app.”  “Disruption” is the mantra and governing ethos of the tech industry and its imagination and audacity have changed the world, making it a more efficient, convenient, and for many a more prosperous place.

      But disruption has upended the lives, livelihoods and expectations of the people who inhabit the existing order, and threatens to render millions in the world economy redundant, not just their jobs but even their occupations and professions replaced by automation. That future is already here, and the pace of that change will only increase in the coming years. Many in those governing elites are convinced that this revolution will be like the ones that came before; that it will create enough new jobs and opportunities to replace or even outpace the old. But where is the evidence for that? What if they are wrong and those new jobs never come?

      Populations the world over sensing this are increasingly convinced that they are ruled by technologically empowered elites that are out of touch and unaccountable. This growing crisis of legitimacy is already fueling a populist backlash across the world. Left unaddressed this is just the kind of change that leads to violent revolutions.

      The industry obsesses over the good technology can do, and rightly so. But is disruption ever truly justified when human expectations, livelihoods and happiness are at stake?  Isn’t evolution over revolution the more legitimate and appropriate approach to change in human systems?  Are we ready to deal with the social and political consequences of rapid technological change, such as mass unemployment on a scale never before imaginable?  How can we mitigate the negative externalities of the next “killer app,“ and ensure that disruption gets done right by minding the human factor?

    • 7:30 - 10:00 pm

      Gala Dinner

    • 8:00 - 9:00 am

      Breakfast

    • 9:00 - 9: 30 am

      WITSA’s ICT Excellence Awards

    • 9:30 - 10:45 am

      R/Evolution when AI Crosses Genomics

      R/Evolution when AI Crosses Genomics

      AI and genomics will soon fundamentally transform healthcare, agriculture and even, most controversially, human reproduction. At their best, these technologies offer the promise of helping mankind prevent and cure disease and live healthier, longer, more robust lives. Yet these same technologies carry with them the peril of grave and irreparable harm, whether they are intentionally misused by terrorists or eugenicists, or unintentionally by do-it-yourself dabblers who accidentally unleash deadly pathogens.

      The prospect of designer babies and mad scientists tinkering with gene-editing technologies is no longer the stuff of science fiction. For practical purposes, that future is already here. And so is the time to time to engage in serious and ongoing conversations about what to do about it. These technologies are poised to undermine our collective safety and common humanity tomorrow, if we don’t act immediately to impose controls over them today.

      How do we imbue our values into the decision-making relating to these technologies at every level? How do we enjoy the benefits from their intelligent and judicious application while managing the risks of rogues and renegades bringing humanity to grief?

    • 10:45 - 11:00 am

      Break

    • 11:00 am - 12:15 pm

      Special Sessions: Choose One (Blockchain, Innovation Meets Capital)

      Special Sessions: Choose One (Blockchain, Innovation Meets Capital)

      • Blockchain

        The conjoined concepts of blockchain, crypto-currencies and the Internet-of-things have captured the imaginations of de-centralizers the world over and dominated mainstream media coverage of the technology space. The evangelists of these technologies believe them to be universal; there is no use case that they do not believe can be accomplished by their implementation. Yet all of this talk of promise remains just that: unrealized potential.

        Beyond the slogans and evangelism what are the true uses of blockchains, crypto-currencies and IoT devices, and are they all they are imagined to be?  Is blockchain necessary or even sustainable?  Will nation-states tolerate currencies outside the control of the established international monetary and financial system?  Should they in a world in which consequential externalities can be generated by a teen-ager in his parents’ basement and travel around the world in hours?  Are dark web criminal activities and terrorist financing a price worth paying for an abstract promise?  And what about living under 24-hour surveillance by all the seen and unseen devices around us?

      • Innovation Meets Capital

        If talent and creativity are the fuel of innovation, capital is the oxygen without which innovation remains the unrealized dream of its creator, mere doodles on a cocktail napkin. And capital needs new fuel to feed its appetite for returns which it finds in innovation. If the conditions are right, innovators chase talent; capital finds innovators; innovators draw new talent; and virtuous cycles are born, driving novel industries and channels of commerce with money and opportunity flowing into economies, local and global. From seed money to the unicorn exit, our panel explores the places and spaces where innovation meets capital and capital meets innovation, and where revolutions are born.

    • 12:15 - 12:45 pm

      Lightning Round

      Lightning Round

      WCIT-Yerevan will host three sets of lightning rounds showcasing flash-forward technologies from start-ups, big companies, universities, and more! Open to all.

    • 12:45 - 1:45 pm

      Lunch

    • 1:45 - 3:00 pm

      Miseducation, Society & Democracy

      Miseducation, Society & Democracy

      The technologies we carry everywhere and can no longer live without are certainly transformative and empowering. At their best they facilitate learning by lowering the transaction costs of amassing and accessing information, and help to bridge the time and distance between continents and cultures, past and present. Yet smartphones, social media and online search have rewired our brains, affected our ability to make sense of the world, challenged our decision-making, and reordered our relationships with one another and society at-large. Anecdotal evidence of societal maladies is legion: distraction, superficial thinking, academic scandals, anti-social behavior, arrested social development, addiction, depression, suicide, cultural fragmentation and societal division, and susceptibility to rumor, myth, superstition and manipulation. Scientific inquiry is beginning to confirm the disturbing correlation of these phenomena with the rise of smartphones, social media, online search, virtual reality and other intimate technologies. Meanwhile tech companies are increasingly willing to put an editorial finger on the scale, sanitizing social media, managing search engine results and engaging in censorship verging on thought control.

       

      Do we truly understand the potential dark side of the technologies we depend on to manage every aspect of our lives?  Do we want to live in societies in which individual autonomy, individual choice, and even individual personality are only illusions, stealthily manipulated by multinational business enterprises in the name of expediency, efficiency, commerce or social justice?  How we can better rule these technologies rather than letting them rule us?

       

      We explore the impact of technology on learning. What are the consequences for education, epistemology, knowledge, society, democracy?

    • 3:00 - 3:45 pm

      Distinguished Speakers

    • 3:45 - 4:00 pm

      Break

    • 4:00 - 5:15 pm

      How Green is Silicon?

      How Green is Silicon?

      It is taken by many as an article of faith that the sunny and windy new world of high-tech is cleaner and greener than the gritty old world of carbon and steel. But powering our high-tech infrastructure of data centers and switches demands the generation of staggering amounts of electrical energy. And those demands area about to explode even further. Blockchain, AI and Big Data are here; the ever-more-data-hungry cryptography-based economy, 5G and IoT are on the near horizon.

      We ask just how sustainable is high-tech?  Is such massive growth of data consumption really sustainable?  Do we have enough water and resources to power and cool the data centers and technological infrastructure necessary to support this brave new world?  Is it even possible and at what cost?  And what about the environmental impact of extracting and disposing of the toxic materials that go into the manufacture of high-tech?  What measure can the technology industry take to contain and wisely manage its own use of energy and resources?

    • 5:15 - 6:00 pm

      What Have We Learned?

      What Have We Learned?

      Our journalists and futurists discuss and contextualize the highlights of WCIT 2019 and The Yerevan Talks, and provide attendees a call to action in furthering the goal of optimizing ICT and its role in helping make the world a better place.

    • 6:00 - 7:00 pm

      WITSA Closing

    • 7:45 - 11:00 pm

      Reception: Celebrate!

      Reception: Celebrate!

      Enjoy the company of fellow ICT luminaries, experts, and practitioners from industry, academia, government for a special reception under the stars in Yerevan!

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