This has been my 4th consecutive year attending South By South West at the city of Austin. Worth doing, although I have to recognize that I came back more tired than in previous editions: to the fact that the program itself has been always very competitive and impossible to follow its whole agenda, I stayed two more days attending SXSW Interactive…and that was a bit tough for both my body and mind.

In addition to this, I have to say that this has been the more difficult edition to digest with regards the content. I think that we are living a kind of inflection point in relation to the trends, and this was shown in all the disciplines that converge at Austin: technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, healthcare, humanity, futurism, etc. It´s really important to pay attention to this because we are still thinking that the future lies in things that in reality are part of the past. Specifically, in the following two areas:

  • Some social networks have not lead us to a better world than the one we had before the irruption of the Social Web: anonymity, harassment, fake news, false and misleading statistics; the use of social media as a weapon to destroy individuals instead of a collaborative tool to connect with, create and grow up intellectually with them making the most of the wisdom of the crowd principle. During the week of the congress, at the capital of the state of the Lone StarTexas, there was a kind of sense of our fault by this awful scenario that needs to be addressed to bring back the magic spirit of social media.Lone Star
  • The end of mobile apps as a mainstream trend: an over swamped and commodity market. As stated by one of the speakers: nowadays people don´t have even the 35 seconds needed to download an app from a store.

Artificial Intelligence was the main topic in SXSW 17, the common denominator in almost all the disciplines. And AI is where I´m going to focus this post:

Artificial Intelligence, pic via Shutterstock
Artificial Intelligence, pic via Shutterstock

Artificial Intelligence and its impact in the future of the Humanity


Melanie Cook
Melanie Cook

Under this enigmatic title Melanie Cook delivered what was for me one of the most inspiring keynotes. This TED Speaker opened her presentation stating that we have a grace period of barely 30 years before the machines dominate the work market. In addition to this, there are futurists like Ray Kurzweil that dates 2029 as the Technology Singularity year: machines will reach the same conscious level than we the humans. With all these on mind…what is going to be our role at this new scenario?

Artificial Intelligence and BrandingCook states that machines and humans are going to work together as one system. She invites us to welcome this: our values will not be in danger; the technology development of AI will help to improve the humanity. Behind this two acronyms AI-IA there is a positive key message: Artificial Intelligence-Intelligence Augmentation. We, the humans, rather than being out of the new equation, are going to reinvent the job concept empowered by an increase of our intelligence as never imagined before.

Artificial Intelligence and Branding

Last year Business Insider published that one to one messages have surpassed in volume to the one to many conversations taking place in the traditional social networks. If chats are the new browsers, bots are the new web sites, stated a keynote speaker of Fjord. AI, predictive algorithms of online interactions nurtured by the permanent learning coming from the conversation experience between user and products/services, make chatbots the new way of building brands through unique and individualized experiences. At the social branding era, users consume brand experiences built as well with the interactivity of multimedia bots with a wide range of features such as chat, audio, video, VR, AR, etc.

Bots for Messenger

It´s true that still some chatbots behave awkwardly but for sure this will be fix soon because of two reasons: their technology development and their learning from human skills.

There are now 100.000 bots available at Facebook Messenger. But apart from chatbots, there are brands like Harley Davidson, Cosabella (lingerie) or Disney that are making the most of AI tools with end points such as: define their potential market in a more accurate way, test in real time an e-commerce web site, or to get that the Disney factory characters and their audience make up an only unit from its very early conceptualization.

Artificial Intelligence and Healthcare

Cognitive Computing for Healthcare; IBM Watson is a super computer that works under the same cognitive process than we the humans: observes, interprets, evaluates and decides.

Watson is an AI informatics system ready to give a response to questions asked in a natural language. Watson is capable to help to the HCPs in order to determine oncology treatment options as well as to guide in the design and writing of clinical trials.

Beyond Verbal, an Israel company, has developed an artificial intelligent system that measures and analyze the human voice to early diagnose cardiovascular diseases and others such as stress and depression.

On the other hand, the famous Amazon device of voice recognition Alexa is starting to be tested for healthcare queries through an alliance with WebMD in the USA.

Amazon Alexa WebMD, pic via The Verge
Amazon Alexa WebMD, pic via The Verge

I heard in one of the SXSW keynotes that artificial intelligence development can even lead into the machines replacing some of the current tasks of HCPs. One term that shook my mind was that of the uberization of healthcare.

BabylonOne of the firsts FB Messenger chatbots was Healthtap, letting the users ask for medical advices in a one to one format. More recently, the bot Babylon, available now at the IOS and Google Play stores, is endorsed by the UK NHS; it allows direct conversations between patients and professionals, so far in a test area at the north of London.

Otherwise, very enriching and food for thought content in areas such as the evolution of social media, virtual and augmented reality (as mentioned before), healthcare, futurists topics as travelling to Mars with the NASA and trends in topics such as leadership and creativity.

Want to end this post mentioning my annual reencounter with people all around the world, special individuals that I admire and respect, as well as my walks around the 6th street and Congress Avenue till reaching the amazing Capitol, the historical Spanish legacy, the Tex-Mex food, my joy and indulgence at their Starbucks…and of course, the live music, the one which brought into life the first of the 31st editions of SXSW.

It is said that sharing is living, so here you are my testimony of these 7 days of my life at this amazing city of Austin so close to my stage of boomer entrepreneur, curious, restless and with a permanent hunger of keep learning and keep dreaming.

Austin Skyline view from the Colorado RiverAustin Skyline view from the Colorado River

Keep Austin Weird!

Ángel González

By Ángel González

Founder & CEO