Loz Maneschi’s SXSW Diary #1
It’s SXSW time in Austin and Loz Maneschi, a creative from Cocogun, is currently attending the iconic festival of cutting edge tech, film, music, education, and culture. Here, she shares some of her insights and experiences exclusively for Campaign Brief.
The first few days at South By Southwest have been mind blowing.
Austin has been awash with Hollywood and industry celebrities, gracing the red carpet of movie premieres and the keynote speaker stage. Lanyarded conference goers from around the world pack the downtown streets as they move from one speaker session to the next. Panellists are dropping Elon Musk’s name in almost every session, regardless of topic.
There’s so much going on at SXSW, and there’s definitely a sense of “oh shit, I’m never going to attend the right talks/make the most out of this”. I wouldn’t say no to an Everything Everywhere All At Once-style multiverse where I could plop myself in all the sessions (plus go back to the world-premiere of the Oscar dominating film at SXSW 2022). But one of the best things I’ve heard from the people here is that you’ve got to go with the flow, because who knows what queue or surprise event or taco stop will thwart your plans.
And go with the flow we have. Not making it into a talk titled A Brief History of the Future with a Chief Futurist from Deloitte meant that we hopped into the adjacent room for BCI: Futures of Cognition, Economy and Humanity, where speakers unpacked the neuroethical and societal implications of brain-computer interfaces that restore agency to people living with neurological injuries and disease states. The potential to augment cognition, understand the nature of consciousness and improve the retrieval of memory is dizzying, and I’m so glad we ended up in that room.
Artificial Intelligence is, of course, front and centre, with the past year seeing AI disrupt every major industry. Speakers have been unpacking the ethics that come with this new era of innovation and driving home the ways AI will change our relationship with work (check out the session with OpenAI’s co-founder Greg Brockman on SXSW’s YouTube for his take on the impact of generative AI).
The future-of-tech and AI sessions have been great, as anticipated. However the hands-down highlight for me so far has been the panels filled with some of the most kick-ass women I’ve ever heard from. The first day began on a real high with The Brands Behind the Rise of Women’s Sports, a topic I’m deeply passionate about as a lifelong sportswoman and current AFL player. The women on this panel were C-suite execs from ESPN, Google and a four time Olympian. Their optimism, growing investment in and engagement with women’s sports was infectious. We’ve heard from Black Women On Boards, a group of powerful women of colour tackling the mountain of systematic barriers making it virtually impossible for Black women to have a seat in the boardroom. We’ve been to an all-women panel about the upcoming Artemis mission to the moon which will see the first woman and person of colour on the lunar surface. One woman on the panel had the job title of Mars Architecture Lead…how awesome.
After two days, I’m left with the feeling that everyone in Austin is here to be sucked into SXSW’s planetary orbit, then spun out and propelled in new directions. I can’t wait to see how my universe will continue to expand…