SXSW 2017: Catch These 12 IEEE Sessions at the Interactive Festival

Topics will include artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, and wearables

24 February 2017

At this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival, from 10 to 16 March in Austin, Texas, IEEE will feature 12 sessions covering technologies that can benefit society. IEEE Life Fellow Vint Cerf, founding father of the Internet and chief Internet evangelist for Google, is set to talk about ways to connect the 3 billion people who do not yet have access to the Internet. And IEEE Spectrum editor Eliza Strickland will cover how to engineer the human genome.

In addition, there will be three networking events and, of course, a party with world-renowned technologists.

Read on to learn more about the sessions.


    Ethically Aligned Design: Setting Standards for AI” panelists will present ideas on developing artificial intelligence and autonomous systems to improve people’s lives, and not harm them. They will discuss recommendations from the IEEE report “Ethically Aligned Design.” The document was created by the IEEE Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems, which was formed by the IEEE Standards Association.

    The “AI and the Suburbanization of the Mind” session will reflect on whether artificial intelligence will make our world more homogenized; one in which errors and serendipity are overridden by algorithms. The panelists will address developers’ real-life scenarios, including examples from Facebook and the video game StarCraft.


    The “Beyond Fintech: Blockchain for Every Industry” session will cover how the technology can be used for applications beyond Bitcoin transactions. A blockchain is a decentralized database made up of records, or “blocks,” linked to one another as a chain. A hacker would have to simultaneously compromise all the blocks that follow the one he wants to break into. The enhanced security promised by the technology is especially important for digital medical records, wills, and other documents that should not be altered without the owner’s consent.

    Representatives from Cisco, Cognizant, Sceneplay, and US Bank are on the panel, ready to discuss blockchain’s potential in different industries such as banking, entertainment, health care, and technology.


    Thad Starner, the tech lead for Google Glass, is slated to present at the “Not Your Mama’s Wearables” session, covering cutting-edge innovations in wearable computing. Starner will present his work on voiceless speech recognition and brain-computer interfaces, essentially bridging gaps between people, machines, and their environments.

    At “Brain Wearables,” IEEE Member Tan Le will discuss how headsets designed for the brain can help detect the onset of neurological disorders such as autism and dementia. She is a cofounder of Emotiv, which created the Epoc, an EEG headset that can detect brainwaves and transmit data wirelessly to a PC. A wearer can move an object just by thinking about it—which is especially useful for people with physical disabilities. It also can track brain activity, measuring levels of excitement, stress, and relaxation. Le plans to cover the technology’s possibilities and potential pitfalls.

    Hearables and the Age of Mediated Listening” features speakers from Dolby Laboratories, Karten Design, and the Starkey Hearing Research Center. The panel will discuss hands-free virtual assistants, like Amazon Echo and Google Home, as well as new devices that offer wearers “super hearing” powers, “listen” to their biometrics, and respond to their brain waves.

    Learn more about all 12 IEEE SXSW sessions on the Tech for Humanity website.

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