This year’s South by Southwest conference will be packed with events on digital currencies, health data, and artificial intelligence — a sign of how quickly these have become the biggest topics in future trends. But there’s also a recognition of a dark side: lots of panels about how social media is reshaping news and information, and not always for the better.
What to watch: The festival starts in Austin today. Watch for panels on tech industry trends like cryptocurrencies and voice assistants, the growing presence of lawmakers, a particular interest in media, and especially Facebook’s growing influence. You can also catch a panel on “innovation superpowers.” Oh yeah, and Ethan Hawke will be there.
- “Crypto”: There’s a noticeable number of panels and events focused on everything from blockchain tech to digital tokens, which is not surprising given the past year’s boom.
- Artificial intelligence: As in past years, there are a lot of panels on what’s next in AI — everything from how it could be used in operating rooms to how to “hack” the ugly problem of racial bias.
- Voice assistants: Continuing a trend from January’s CES trade show, companies like Amazon and Google will seek…