January 29
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More and more Armenians are repatriating here because they know the talent is here, Reddit and Initialized Capital Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian said in his talk during the WCIT 2019.

“This is such an important time for a country like Armenia, which has very challenging neighbors, which is landlocked, which has limited natural resources, but which has at this time such an amazing opportunity. Because the human talent that has always been in this country, has a chance to thrive as a part of this global brain, because of software and because of the Internet,” he said. “That’s why I was imploring all of you to least try to get into programming to encourage young people, boys and girls, to get into programming because the foundation really is already there.”

According to him, chess is an amazing foundational learning model for programming and ‘we need to go further’

“I remember in 2010 visiting TUMO Center when it was still under construction and remember being told about all the promise that it would provide, that any young Armenia could come in there and start to learn whether it's about computer science or design or art, and they could do so with world-class tools and lessons. And in the years since that I have come back, I have seen TUMO filled with exactly the bright minds, the bright Armenian minds, getting access to world-class tools and technology, just as it was promised, and they're finding their place within this huge global brain right thanks to software and thanks to the Internet,” he said. “And it makes me so hopeful because now more and more Armenians are repatriating here because they want to plug in here to that global brain, because they know the talent is here.

According to him, he still remembers the stories his grandfather tells, about the journey that his parents had and what they had to witness during the Genocide.

"And those stories linger with me especially at a time where the US is being frankly more antagonistic towards immigrants and refugees, than I have ever seen in my lifetime, and I can't help but think that there were some refugees that were coming off a boat from Syria via some place in the world, that the average American at the border had never heard of that,” he said. “They gave an opportunity to and because of that opportunity because of that very fortuitous circumstance a few generations later I showed up and was able to get into programming was able to build something that is now arguably one of the tenth largest web sites in the  world.”

According to him, “we're just seeing the start of an artificial intelligence and machine learning revolution, and so much of a really hard complicated tech required to do this it's very much in our DNA, especially in the country of Armenia.

“And so when I talk to people whether it's back in the States or right here, who are just entering the workforce or are still building the skills to do so, I would say: ‘Look for the careers and look for the skills that require creativity, that require empathy.’ My sister is a nurse and when I hear about the work that she does I can't help but laugh because there is no way in hell a robot is going to do her job,” she said.

He noted that there is an amazing change happening in the world right now.

“This huge whole earth brain really gets amazing, because so far we've been able to see what happens when ideas can transfer across borders instantly, and we're starting to get a glimpse, when you can start an app like a PicsArt in Yerevan, and sell it to people all over the world. You’re still working through someone else's app store and you're still paying a toll every time your app gets downloaded, but you’re now plugged into a global network,” he said. “My bet is as this technology continues to improve, there are gonna be more and more channels to do so far: cheaper, far easier, and far faster than ever before and that's gonna lead to more innovation.”

“Armenia has such a legacy, such a history, so many ideas worth sharing, and so many Armenians that have historically thrived all over the world,” he said adding: “I’m just humbled to be a part of it, I’m humbled and honored to be a member of this tribe, and I know I spent most of my childhood not really ever feeling Armenian enough, I don’t speak very much Armenian and I blame my dad.’

According to him, sometimes he thinks what he can do to make Olympia feel a connection to her Armenian roots and speak Armenian.

And then he realized: “I could find an Armenian tutor of chess who could also teach her Armenian.”

Concluding his speech, he referred to Armenian velvet revolution: “I'm thrilled to be here. I was so moved watching this peaceful revolution across social media. And the only thing I could say: I contributed to it was a few retweets, but I do really believe that same agent for change that helped bring all of that about, is the same agent that is gonna help this country thrive as a part of this global brain…I just thank you humbly I'm so proud to be in this tribe and so proud to be her.”

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