Trend watch from SXSW

It is my first time visiting South by southwest in Austin Texas and for me it is like nothing I have visited before. You have a combination of music, film, technology, education, creativity, design, etc all melting together in one big pot. Across a few venues the city is completely consumed by this festival, conference, exhibition.

My first impression is that anything goes as far as fashion, although the uniform is jeans and t-shirt for the mostly young male visitor. The ladies I have met so far are strong and interesting with all sorts of viewpoints. Being part of an all-female discussion group made me feel that women globally experience similar issues and at the same time the first world issues are different depending on region and age.

Although I have only managed to enter a few talks and mainly hung out so far with my fellow panellists. The trends that are apparent are distinctly around are virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Most talks about AI are fully subscribed and the amount of VR and AR stands in the exhibition definitely give some insight into the possibilities or lack of for that matter. Augmented reality keeps disappointing in the way it is adopted with lack of creativity in my view. So note to self we may have to address this. Virtual reality is still all about the headsets and content remains an issue because it simply is expensive to create right now.

Artificial intelligence in this company stands out like the sexy kid on the block, even if it has a whole range of other issues attached to that such as the question of ethics and how will we interact when our world can be mainly run by robots and algorithms. The challenge of artificial intelligence is that it still needs to be originally programmed by humans and that the lack of diversity in the base programming may well cause further disconnect than we already see in society today. AI can learn over time and adapt, but only if it left exposed to a variety of experiences from different viewpoints male/female, young/old, cultural and national or even regional differences. Saying that it is exciting to see the potential of it. It will disrupt our world to a larger extent than ever before in my view with more.

Imagine the low end process driven jobs disappearing to a robot, quite a few roles completely disappearing and the world of work adapting to mainly creative and mind pursuits. Maybe the whole idea of giving all citizens a wage and allowing them to work or not on top of that would be a major paradigm shift. It would also require governments to actually employ people with business experience of managing this as a not for profit long term sustainable system. I am not sure how or if it can work, but the one thing I am sure of is that artificial intelligence will disrupt much more than we currently think of. Maybe not in my lifetime but with the rapid change of technology I wouldn’t be 100% sure of it, more the resistance to change of most humans will be what will drive a slower take up.

I finally found out what Facebook wants to actually do their Occulus purchase and it turns out it os for 360 social media creations, so your friends could feel in your presence even when they aren’t. I guess that’s why they are training us in to watch live videos from everyone to get into the habit of wanting to attend when someone happens to invite you in a 360 movie. Personally I am not sure if I would be all that interested considering the intrusion of push live video already.

It is a brief post today, with a further update probably next week when I have absorbed more sessions, heard more people and had my own experience of being in a panel.

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