November 1, 2017 - 17:28 AMT
Approximately Correct: Embracing diffusion of AI research in Armenia

The future of AI research in Armenia has less to do with invited guests and more to do with the next generation of researchers, Zachary Chase Lipton, a PhD candidate in the Computer Science and Engineering department at the University of California, said in an article, published on Approximately Correct.

Two weeks ago, Lipton arrived in Yerevan, Armenia to attend the Machine Learning for Discovery Sciences workshop co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology. The workshop brought invited speakers from around the world to Yerevan to give short talks on their research, participate in panel discussions, and engage in a day of roundtables to discuss recommendations for the development of sciences in Armenia and future collaborations with US researchers and institutions.

"Over the course of one week in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, I participated in a crash course on machine learning by day and at all other times (besides those wee hours spent either sleeping or working on papers with Californian collaborators) participated in a crash course on Armenia itself, learning my way around Yerevan’s streets, food, music, and most importantly, getting to know their students – emerging AI researchers searching for and creating opportunities in the Armenian capital," the article says.

"I could write an entire post about the workshop proper. Workshop co-chairs Aram Galstyan and Naira Hovakimyan pulled together a terrific group of professors and researchers from theory (Arnak Dalayan, Negar Kiyavash, Mesrob Ohannessian, Nathan Srebro), NLP (Jerry Hobbs), computational social science (Katy Pearce, Daniel Larremore), and medicine (David Kale, Kristina Simonyan), graph mining (Tina Eliassi-rad, Danai Koutra, Zoran Obradovic), and more. I could write an entire post about the talks, another about the food, and a third about the music. And someone more knowledgable than me could write about the societal political significance (the president attended the gala!) of the workshop at the level of governments and institutions. But I suspect that the future of AI research in Armenia has less to do with invited guests and more to do with the next generation of researchers.

"Over the next years, Yerevan’s high-tech educational initiatives and undergraduate universities will churn out thousands of promising students. And as science grows more decentralized, and organizations like FAST and TUMO step up investment in science education, these students may have footing to compete in a global machine learning research ecosystem. Perhaps, with few signs of a thawing in the San Francisco, Seattle, New York, or London real estate markets, they may even have an advantage."