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AI Dominates SXSW 2024: Embrace Or Resist?

The South By Southwest festival (SXSW) is renowned for its cutting-edge discussions and presentations, and this year, one topic stole the spotlight: Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

On one hand, AI enthusiasts touted its potential to revolutionize industries and enhance human capabilities. Consumer-facing brands seized the opportunity to unveil new products and engage in thought-provoking discussions about the implications of AI on branding, marketing, and consumer behavior. However, amidst the buzz surrounding AI’s promises, a notable resistance emerged.

Attendees at SXSW expressed their skepticism and apprehension towards AI, resorting to booing a presentation reel that only focused on promoting AI.

One pivotal moment occurred during a presentation featuring OpenAI’s VP of consumer product, Peter Deng, who declared, “I actually think that AI fundamentally makes us more human.” This statement was met with the loudest booing of the presentation, highlighting the deep-seated apprehension towards AI’s integration into our lives.

Similarly, according to Variety, at a panel discussing the ethical implications of AI, groans ensued when Magic Leap’s founder, Rony Abovitz, urged attendees to embrace AI rather than be overrun by it. The resistance towards AI was further amplified by speakers emphasizing the need for businesses to leverage AI to stay competitive, signaling a divide between those embracing AI and those wary of its implications.

However, amidst the resistance, experts like Sandy Carter, author of “The Tiger and the Rabbit: Harnessing the Power of the AI and Blockchain for Business Success,” urged attendees to embrace AI rather than resist it. “You know your business is going to be disrupted — and so you need to stop resisting it and start learning,” she told her panel audience.

Given the trajectory of AI advancements, it’s foreseeable that SXSW will experience exponential growth in AI-related topics next year. Should we consider seizing this opportunity and getting on board?

Jovanka Palacios
Jovanka Palacios
Jovanka Palacios, a Mexican-American Politics Reporter and Managing Editor at RA's Gun Violence Watch, unveils the Capitol's inner workings. Focused on Public Education and Gun Policies, she passionately advocates for informed dialogue, delivering concise, impactful insights into the intricate political landscape.

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