Popping my SXSW Cherry
is my first SXSW. And (insert eyes wide open emoji). It's intense and
amazing. One moment you're questioning the ethical and moral foundations
on which AI is being developed, the next you're watching the staff of
the Daily Show tell you about their creative process. And inbetween it
all, you stand in queues and meet randos with incredible minds.
very first presentation was an interview with Howard Schultz - the guy
who put Starbucks on the map in the 80s. It felt like he was using
Austin as a sounding board for his future presidential campaign. There
was a lot of rhetoric around pride and the American dream. And the only
thing it didn't have was a bunch of guys in singlets and trucker hats
shouting U-S-A! U-S-A!
He made a lot of sense (which is a good start for an American
presidential hopeful these days). But I was actually there for the next
talk by Amy Webb. Pro tip: if you want to see something at SXSW, go to
the presentation before and stay in your seat.
Amy Webb is a
futurist and the author of a 2019 emerging tech trends report. It was an
eye-opening presentation filled with an intimidatingly large amount of
Some amazing things (think underground farms in
China and Japan that produce 100x more volume per sq ft, using 40% less
power, 99% less water and resulting in 80% less food waste).
"huh?" things (like a car being developed by Kia with MIT that uses
AI-based real-time emotion recognition technology to change the ambient
environment of the car based on a driver's emotional state).
worrying things (most notably, the prevalence of biometric scanning and
data collection that's happening all around us without a proper
understanding of who owns the data and how it can be shared). If someone
owns the data on your DNA, do they own your body?
been here a short while. But I can tell what I love most about SXSW
already. It's the diversity of learning and discussion. You can have
politics for breakfast, tech for lunch and philosophy for dinner. Oh and
whisky after all of that.