World's First AI Concert Opens WCIT 2019 in Yerevan, Armenia

Yerevan hosted the world's first Artificial Intelligence concert to mark the opening of the 23rd World Congress on Information Technology.
Susan Fourtané
Sergey Smbatyan/AI concert Susan Fourtané for Interesting Engineering 

YEREVAN, Armenia -- The world's top technology and business leaders gather this week in Yerevan, Armenia for the 23rd World Congress on Information Technology.

WCIT is organized by the World Information Technology & Services Alliance, the Consortium of ICT associations of 83 countries representing 90 percent of the industry. Running for 40 years, the WCIT is one of the oldest and most prestigious ICT events in the world that brings together CEOs, investors, policy makers, government officials, academics, and technologists to discuss the current state of the industry as well as where it is going.

This year, WCIT has focused its attention on the Power of Decentralization: Promise and Peril. During the congress, held from 6 to 9 October at the Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concert Complex, ICT leaders will explore how information and communications technology (ICT) is transforming the world and our lives, both for better and for worse. Discussion topics will include impacts on profit and prosperity, safety and security, democracy and humanity. 

The dual power of decentralization 

Decentralization offers more resilient, open, and democratic networks. However, decentralization also brings peril of technology: The peril of intentional acts by humans who misuse technology to inflict harm. There is also the peril of unintentional consequences. This is when technology disrupts cultural settings, economic and social expectations, and creates new problems during attempts to solve old ones. 

The technology industry today faces perhaps the greatest challenges in history. Today, we live in a world where technology rules and there is no going back.

AI Concert: Music composed in real-time by AI technology

Last night, at the Republic Square in Yerevan, WCIT presented a one-of-its-kind opening concert performed by the WCIT Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Sergey Smbatyan.

The orchestra, made up of 100 symphony musicians from the 15 countries that have hosted WCIT during its 40-year history, played classical music composed in real-time by AI technology, derived from the musical DNA of all those countries. The concert was an unprecedental collaboration of human and machine talent. 

Sergey Smbatyan is the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra. The Orchestra was accompanied by an AI software that was especially programmed to incorporate the musical DNA of all 15 countries, including uniquely Armenian compositions.

Human and machine collaboration

Renowned Armenian composer Aram Khachaturyan’s most acclaimed composition, The Sabre Dance, was also brought into the digital age with an awe-inspiring 3D mapping projected onto the Republic Square.

ai concert republic square, Yerevan
Republic Square, Yerevan / Source: Susan Fourtané for Interesting Engineering 

“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 Alexander Yesayan, President of the Union of Advanced Technology Enterprises (UATE).

This is the first time that symphonic music was composed in real-time by AI technology and performed live by an orchestra of live human musicians.

“It is considered that technologies distance people. With the creation of the WCIT global orchestra we break that stereotype," said Sergey Smbatyan. "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,” Smbatyan said.

World-class musical innovator Armin Van Buuren closed the ceremony with his psychedelic visual effects. Armin Van Buuren is a Grammy-winning DJ and record producer. His unique mixes are credited with erupting trance music into a global sensation. 

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