With another SXSW complete, this year’s 8 day event brought together thousands of people to celebrate a cross-section of interests, from music, film, and interactive to name a few. The festival proved to be heavy with this years most anticipated entertainment and brand announcements. But potentially the talking point of the entire event was the surrounding themes of diversity and equality.
Some of the greatest minds across disciplines were in force to discuss the challenges being faced by society, with diversity and equality within the tech sector being a prominent conversation. Females represented 50 percent of speakers during the interactive portion, and dominated some of the most powerful discussions surrounding the current movement of female empowerment within both the advertising and tech industry.
A lack of trust with institutions and the presence of blockchain as a potential way to overcome it proved to be another prominent theme throughout a number of panels. Financial organisations, such as IBM, healthcare and supply chain were among those who lead the discussion on its future purpose.
As always, the topic of Artificial Intelligence proved once again to be at the forefront of the event. Sold out talks from the likes of Elon Musk debated the possible danger that AI could have on us and our businesses, whilst others discussed the possible benefit that the creative industries could see, working alongside it.
The evolving landscape of tech was highlighted further through the many panels dedicating conversations to cybersecurity, following the 2016 US election scandal, all the way down to the responsibility of brands and the impact that they have on society. Social platforms such as Facebook were prominent within the talks, holding their own panels to discuss issues surrounding the industry and themselves as a brand under fire.
On a lighter note, the festival also boasted a number of fun activities, including sensory experiences, and a Westworld pop up, which allowed fans to gain exclusive access to the world of the hit TV show.
This year’s event has truly changed the direction of SXSW and the role that it plays within the tech sector. Rather than being presented as a way to discuss the biggest upcoming trends in a number of industries, the festival has evolved itself as a place for discussion on a number of societal topics. That being said, the event continues to be a place for exciting, up-and-coming entertainment, as well as new opportunities for the tech sector as a whole.