SXSW 2023: AI is Here
The annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in my home of Austin, Texas, returned last week, combining technology, film, and music into nine days of conversations, learning, and – yes – partying. This was my 11th SXSW (kids, don’t get old) and every year I learn something new.
This year, the one area that generated the most interest was the latest developments in artificial intelligence (AI). The technology side of the conference include experts from across all industries, from manufacturing to sustainability to IT, showcasing how AI was enabling them to streamline processes and deliver goods and services quicker and more efficiently.
On the surface, that sounds great, but rapid adoption of technologies comes with unintended consequences. Speakers and experts stressed the need for thoughtful and ethical adoption of AI tools to avoid unwanted ramifications. Experts from academia, industry, and government discussed the ethical considerations involved in developing and deploying AI systems, such as the potential for bias and the impact of automation on jobs.
Impact on the Workforce
One notable theme was the impact of AI on the workforce. With many jobs being automated, experts discussed the need for retraining and reskilling to ensure that workers can adapt to the changing job market. Many companies showcased their efforts to create AI-powered solutions that can help workers learn new skills and find new job opportunities.
As a copywriter, I have to be aware of how things like ChatGPT will impact my career. I’m skeptical that I’m getting replaced anytime soon – I don’t think AI can replicate human emotion or the ability to connect in an authentic way – but how I work may certainly be altered. Much like SEO became a skill set I had to develop, I need to be learning about target words for copy generators and make sure that my editing skills are where they need to be.
AI for Good
Not all things discussed were purely profit driven. There are many established and startup companies looking to leverage the technology to better humanity. One area where AI is likely to have a major impact is in the development of renewable energy sources. Machine learning algorithms can help optimize the efficiency of solar, wind, and other renewable energy systems, allowing them to generate more power with fewer resources.
AI can also help in the management of natural resources, such as water and forests. By analyzing data from sensors and other sources, AI algorithms can identify patterns and predict future trends in resource usage, allowing for more efficient and sustainable management practices.
Then, there’s the impact of AI on healthcare. Experts discussed how AI is being used to improve patient care, with applications ranging from diagnosis and treatment to drug discovery and medical research. Devices and SaaS solutions were prevalent.
How will AI Impact my Tech Stack?
Any IT professional is likely already impacted by AI. At NetApp IT, we’re using AI-infused solutions to automate tasks, analyze massive datasets, and enhance security. A lot of this comes from NetApp itself.
The unknowns are where this will head in the future. Predictive analytics and intelligent user interfaces are probably first up. Then, for IT providers, there is a massive opportunity in supporting all the growth and innovation around the sector. All of this is going to require a massive amount of compute power, storage, and networking after all.
So, that was SXSW 2023. Other than the future of the human race, New Order is still great and the Tetris movie was excellent. If you have any inclination of going next year, reach out!