The World Congress on Information Technology 2019 (WCIT2019) will bring together more than 3 000 of the world’s top technology and business leaders.
This year’s event – the 23rd WCIT – is being held in Yerevan, Armenia from 7 to 9 October, and TheSouthAfrican.com has the honour of attending.
The WCIT kicked off on Sunday evening with an opening performance by DJ Armin van Burren; followed by a symphony orchestra created by artificial intelligence under the direction of Sergei Smbatyan.
The WCIT theme for 2019
This year’s theme is The Power and Decentralisation: Promise and Peril. While the WCIT 2019 represents “a special opportunity for Armenia to show the world its talent and potential in the fields of science and technology, it also raises an important dilemma.
While decentralisation empowers individuals and provides resilient and open networks, the “peril of unintended consequences” cannot be overlooked. From individuals out to cause harm to cultural and economic disruptions, decentralisation poses a threat if it goes unchecked.
“For the better part of a generation we have lived in a world in which technology rules. The industry that brings us this technology understandably obsesses over the good technology can do. Promise-oriented thinking and happy talk is the industry’s default setting. At this point in history, however, the principal challenge is no longer that of inventing a new technology or a new application of an existing technology to solve a given problem. The principal challenge now is to recognise and address the consequences of the technologies and applications that are already shaping and reshaping the world.”
WCIT 2019 Speakers
The star-studded forum will include Alexis Ohanyan, co-founder of Reddit and Initialized Capital; along with the founder of Giphy, Alex Chung, business mogul Kim Kardashian, as well as System of a Down lead singer, Serj Tankian.
Kardashian – who has more than 240 million subscribers, is one of the most influential business leaders on social media. The WCIT organisers state:
“We are confident that Kardashian, as an unusual successful entrepreneur, as a leader in this field, as a wife and mother, will be able to present important and interesting aspects about the world of entrepreneurship in social media.”
Other speakers include:
- Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia
- Gary Vaynerchuk, chairman of VaynerX
- Yvonne Chiu, chairman of the World Information Technology and Services Alliance
- Alexander Yesayan, the president of the Union of Advanced Technology Enterprises.
- Richard Quest, renowned business Correspondent, CNN
- Ashkhen Kazaryan, director of Civil Liberties, TechFreedom
- Dr Garo H. Armen, chairman and CEO of Agenus Inc.
- Larisa Hovannisian, founder and CEO of Teach for Armenia
- Arkady Volozh, founder and CEO of Yandex
- Mikhail Mishustin, head of Federal Tax Service Russia
- Hovhannes Avoyan, founder and CEO of PicsArt,
- and many more.
The complete list of speakers can also be viewed here.
WCIT 2019: Topics and panel discussions
The WCIT 2019 organisers have taken a bold yet unconventional approach when setting up the agenda or this year’s event. Talks and panel discussion have been formulated with one goal in mind:
“To examine note just the promise but the peril of technology and the technological way of life the tech industry is promoting.”
The goal is to “provoke a genuine discussion by taking ideas, even dissenting, contrarian and controversial ones, seriously: from everyone in the world today who has something relevant to say from both within the industry and beyond.”
On Monday, Richard Clarke presented the WCIT 2019 keynote address, followed by Narayana Murthy, the founder of Emeritus and Infosys, with Rise of the Machines.
Other talks for the day included Innovation Meets Capital, Augmented Humanity, and Where Art We Going?, delivered by James Huang, Jamie Metzl and Richard Quest, and Katherine Sarafian and James Bridle respectively.