Robotic canines, tech bros and digital Geisha women: when SXSW got here to Sydney | SXSW


A concurrently acquainted and barely terrifying robotic canine wanders by the viewers of a session on the Sydney version of South by South West. On stage, the panellists opine a couple of future more and more outlined by synthetic intelligence and automation.

“It’s going to get a lot, way more important,” says Ed Santow, the previous human rights commissioner and present director of coverage and governance on the UTS Human Expertise Institute. “And for many individuals that shall be factor, [but] for lots of people it’ll be actually, actually exhausting.”

The robotic is creepy however its fan is as noisy as a ps4 so it's not sneaking up on anybody.

— Josh Taylor (@joshgnosis) October 19, 2023

“,”url”:”″,”id”:”1714803160295018507″,”hasMedia”:false,”position”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”supply”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”f8463346-b81c-4371-80ab-b550b6fa83b7″” config=””renderingTarget”:”Net””/>

AI has turn out to be ubiquitous prior to now yr, and at an occasion like SXSW it’s inescapable, however not everyone seems to be satisfied it’s a game-changer.

Charlie Brooker, the creator of the Netflix collection Black Mirror who’s at the very least partially answerable for making robotic canines so terrifying, says he discovered AI “boring and spinoff” when he requested ChatGPT to jot down an episode of the hit present about know-how gone incorrect.

Charlie Brooker at SXSW in Sydney.
Charlie Brooker at SXSW in Sydney. {Photograph}: Brendon Thorne/Getty Photographs for SXSW Sydney

“It’s simply emulating one thing. It’s Hoovered up each description of each Black Mirror episode, presumably from Wikipedia and different issues that folks have written, and it’s simply form of vomiting that again at me. It’s pretending to be one thing it isn’t able to being,” he tells the viewers.

Outdoors the principle conference centre in Tumbalong Park the place the free occasions are arrange, a pop-up bar claims to be designed by AI, proper right down to an “AI cocktail” – but it surely’s only a margarita. You possibly can’t assist however assume, perhaps Brooker is true.

Our regulatory system is ‘insufficient’

Relying on which occasion you attend, AI is both the newest capitalist fad, a looming horror, one thing we have to embrace or not even price enthusiastic about.

At a panel on the moral use of AI, Kate Bower, a shopper information advocate at Selection, says as a result of AI is invisible in on a regular basis providers comparable to search engines like google and credit score providers, persons are in danger from AI with out realising it.

“Folks don’t know once they’re doubtlessly being harmed by AI,” she says. “And that might be by lack of inclusion, it might be by lack of range, it might be by opaque credit score scores that imply that they don’t get a mortgage.”

“They may not know there’s discrimination in that algorithm, so these choices for redress that we presently have in our regulatory system are insufficient.”

Justin Stevens, the director of stories on the ABC, says he’s excited in regards to the prospect of AI however admits the general public broadcaster has been taking a really cautious method, ensuring it isn’t used to generate unique items of journalism.

It might be helpful for investigative journalism, he says, by scraping court docket data and accumulating information in a matter of minutes the place it in any other case would have taken weeks. AI instruments to determine AI deep-fakes may be of profit sooner or later.

“We don’t know and may’t see the affect it is going to have on our business and sector – and it will likely be huge – however I’m not closed off to it being all draw back,” he says.

AI deep fakes might need been helpful in producing an viewers for the Actual Housewives of Sydney occasion, the place solely a handful of punters are braving the chilly and rain to listen to them communicate in regards to the new Binge actuality present.

The Real Housewives of Sydney on stage at SXSW Sydney
{Photograph}: Josh Taylor/The Guardian

In the meantime, there may be nonetheless bandwidth accessible for the tech fad of yesteryear: cryptocurrency.

Is it lifeless? Not in keeping with Fred Schebesta, the co-founder of the comparability web site Finder. In reality, it’s on its means again alongside rising inflation (however that’s not monetary recommendation).

“We had a foul actor in crypto,” Schebesta says of FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, presently on trial for stealing buyer funds and mendacity to traders. “You already know, in America … for those who mess with capitalism, they’ll mess with you.”

Schebesta says he by no means met the accused fraudster when Finder bought an over-the-counter buying and selling desk to FTX earlier than all of it got here crashing down.

NFTs – the jpg-artwork commerce that was all the trend final yr – even have their very own slot. Nonetheless, the panel entitled “NFTs – sizzle or fizzle?” is extra on the fizzle aspect with its half-capacity crowd. A handful in attendance increase their palms when requested if anybody owns an NFT – however all palms drop when requested if anybody owns one they aren’t embarrassed about.

Away from the talkfest and over on the tech expo, males are supplied barber cuts on the Monster power drink stand, whereas somebody from Intel yells out invites to partake in a online game occasion. There’s a VR headset the place you possibly can work together with digital Japanese Geisha women – the sales space babes of the twenty first century.

Sales space babes for a brand new period I suppose.

— Josh Taylor (@joshgnosis) October 18, 2023

“,”url”:”″,”id”:”1714433973529743498″,”hasMedia”:false,”position”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”supply”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”b4aee380-9c74-44fa-9b5f-2e9604128a32″” config=””renderingTarget”:”Net””/>

Qantas presents a digital actuality headseat tour of its Challenge Dawn airplane alongside real-world fashions of first and enterprise class cubicles. And the Australian military has an armoured automobile on show, for causes that aren’t solely clear.

‘Not a lot of a summer time camp vibe’

When Sydney was introduced as the primary SXSW location outdoors of Austin in practically 4 many years, it felt like an enormous win for town – notably given the challenges Sydney has confronted over its nightlife through the previous decade.

However by its nature, SXSW is an outlier in Austin, bringing within the tech bros and other people deeply concerned in music, movie and TV. Tech bros and a big portion of Australia’s leisure business are already based mostly in Sydney so SXSW doesn’t really feel a lot completely different to different tech conferences town typically hosts. On the finish of the day, there’s not a lot of a summer time camp vibe.

It might be partly the placement – Darling Harbour, the place a lot of the occasions are held, isn’t a spot most Sydneysiders usually frequent on weekdays. Or it might be that entry to many occasions requires a multi-day go costing greater than $1,000.

There are single ticket occasions, expo passes and wristbands accessible for secondary entry to occasions, however they nonetheless require an almost $200 funding – with out guaranteeing entry.

They will additionally add to the chaos of well-liked occasions, comparable to Brooker, the place individuals who line up half an hour earlier than it begins are turned away, whereas late stragglers find yourself in overflow rooms (which can be additionally full).

When Sydney hosted World Satisfaction earlier this yr, the arrival of an extra 500,000 queer folks genuinely modified the sensation within the metropolis – it was transformational. It’s clear that luring these massive occasions to Australia can work in the best circumstances. However SXSW doesn’t really feel fairly the identical.

Further reporting by Yvonne C Lam.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.