Comprising of more than 800 sessions, 19 different tracks and countless brand activations- the inaugural SXSW Sydney promises to be not just a conference but a melting pot of creative thinking, inspiring speakers, and provocative panel. Across so many varied sessions, it really is a ‘choose your own adventure’ of ideas and speakers.
Each day we want to share some of the things that made the team at Kaimera say “huh…. that’s interesting” and that will hopefully kickstart some new ideas and encourage some debate:
1. Misinformation and partial truths across social platforms are creating societal divisions and censorship.
Kicking off the conference, we attended a panel discussion about ‘transparency and accountability in the age of AI’ facilitated by Rys Farthing and featuring Julie Inman Grant eSafety commissioner, academic Nic Suzor, and Facebook whistle blower and digital accountability advocate Frances Haugen. The panel discussed the institutionalised lack of transparency that permeate big tech companies and how information is being targeted in specific groups of people to deliberately provoke conflict and division. The difference between traditional ‘mass media’ (such as press) is that everyone, regardless of the community you identify with, has the chance to see messages/information and can bring their own context to its understanding. Social media is different, and many organisations are using it to target ‘specific’ interest groups with specific messages that are designed fuel echo chambers of personal prejudices or reaffirm existing biases. Tech companies are also not going far enough when it comes to managing how information is spreading across their platforms. The panel cited various examples of where ‘crude’ algorithms are censoring all perceived ‘bad’ content without factoring in either cultural context or even the impact of different languages.
2. Search will be replaced by more directive A.I and assistive computing.
Quantitative Futurist, Amy Webb spoke a lot about the impending blurring lines between technology and humanity. As our dependence on generative A.I continues to grow and things like ChatGPT become more integrated with more ‘plug ins’ across multiple devices and platforms, our needs are wants will become easier to predict. Imagine a world where your Amazon Alexa or apple watch can use our data and preferences, to recommend and purchase goods and services or even analyses and comment on the nutritional content of our meals. Technology will become more directive and influence our product decisions. This has a huge impact on brands and advertising, totally usurping the idea of brand building and superseding the need to search for products.
3. Building ‘Trust’ is key for successful employer/employee dynamics.
In this panel The Australian Associate Editor, Helen Trinca alongside other business leaders including Sonder co-founder Peter Burnheim, discussed how Trust had become even more critical for businesses. In order for Trust to thrive there needs to be combination of mutual respect (psychological safety), transparency, and two way communication from both the employer and the employee. As employees are increasingly making decisions around where they work based on ‘value alignment’ its important that businesses can outwardly take a stance on key societal issues or politics that best represent their workforce. Furthermore, as hybrid working and flexibility continue to be an important requirement for staff, organisations need to be better equip at facilitating connection and building cultures that people are proud to be part of.
Despite very different sessions Trust and Technology were key threads across the day. As A.I continues to evolve, its intersection with humanity will inevitably have far reaching implications for society and its traditional institutions. The operational models and methods that have gradually evolved since the days of the industrial revolution are about to be radically changed and disrupted. We need to be more adaptive to change, and more critical of the big tech companies that increasingly wielding more power and control.