AI Experts Everywhere at SXSW 2017

The Forrest Four-Cast: February 18, 2017

The continued development, proliferation and implementation of artificial intelligence looks to be one of the biggest themes at SXSW 2017, with various sessions on this benefits (and potential pitfalls) of this technology occurring throughout the March 10–16 timeframe. 15 intriguing AI experts who will be speaking at this year’s event include.

  1. Melanie Cook. SapientNitro’s Strategy Lead for Southeast Asia, Cook has spent her career leading the charge for behavior change in people, brands and organisational leaders. She will deliver a solo presentation titled “Augmented Intelligence: The Next-Gen AI” on Sunday, March 12.
  2. Kate Crawford. A leading researcher, academic and author who works on the social implications of data and machine learning, she co-chaired the White House symposium AI Now in 2016. On Sunday, March 12, Crawford will cover “DARK DAYS: AI and the Rise of Fascism” in Salon 5–6 at the JW Marriott.
  3. Dr Kate Darling. At the MIT Media Lab, Darling (pictured above) investigates social robotics and conducts experimental studies on various human-robot interaction. She also explores the emotional connection between people and life-like machines, seeking to influence technology design and policy direction. Her writing and research anticipate difficult questions that lawmakers, engineers, and the wider public will need to address as human-robot relationships evolve in the coming decades. At SXSW, she will be part of the “AI: Actually Still Terrible” session on Thursday, March 16.
  4. Yoshiki Ishikawa. After graduating from School of Health Science, Faculty of Medicine, the University of Tokyo, Ishikawa studied the latest method of health promotion at Harvard School of Public Health. At SXSW, he will discuss “You Are What AI Cooks: Personalization of Taste” on Monday, March 13.
  5. Kristen Little. A producer who is constantly at the intersection of creativity, technology and storytelling, Little has worked on high profile brands such as Apple and Lexus and has produced a range of projects. She created “Clouds Over Cuba,” an interactive documentary site on behalf of the JFK Library, for which she won an Emmy. On Sunday, March 12, see Little share her insights via the panel “The Future of Creativity is Artificial.”
  6. Charlie Kindel. Attend the “Future of Intelligent Living” session on Thursday, March 16 to learn from Kindrel, who leads product development for the Smart Home capabilities of Alexa, the voice service that powers Amazon Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices.
  7. Emma Kinnucan. An Associate in Booz Allen’s Strategic Innovation Group, Kinnucan focuses on machine intelligence. In this role, she works with public, private, and social sector leaders to understand the opportunities and challenges in using high performance computing, machine learning, and other artificial intelligence technologies. She will be part of the “Intelligent Machines Will Eat Their Young and Us” on Saturday, March 11.
  8. Sophie Kleber. At Huge, Kleber tackles design problems where users need an approachable interface to complex functionality. She specializes in developing engaging features built around solid information architecture. At SXSW, she will speak on the “Designing Emotionally Intelligent Machines” panel on Friday, March 10.
  9. Eugenia Kudya. The co-founder and CEO at the AI startup Luka, Kudya previously founded a branding agency where her clients consisted of Formula One teams and large banks. She will be part of the “Inside Bots” session on Sunday, March 12. Other speakers on this all-star panel include Lili Cheng (Microsoft), Stan Chudnovsky (Facebook Messenger) and Loic Le Meur (Leade.rs).
  10. Pavel Machalek. The Spaceknow company that Machalek recently co-founded provides satellite imagery analytics for the financial, government and construction sectors. Before his new venture, he was head of remote sensing at The Climate Corporation; a researcher at NASA and holds a PhD in Astrophysics from Johns Hopkins University. He will be part of the two-person presentation “Eyes In The Sky: The Future of AI and Satellites” on Friday, March 10.
  11. Tom Meredith. The Austin-based investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist lends his voice to “The Next Four Years of AI” panel that is part of the “Tech Under Trump” programming on Thursday, March 16.
  12. Andrew Moore. Currently the Dean of Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science in Pittsburgh, Moore previously served as VP of Engineering at Google. On Wednesday, March 15 at SXSW, his “AI in America: Preparing Our Kids” presentation will cover how quickly AI is coming, the state of our educational preparedness, and what we can (and MUST) do today to create a generation that’s well-prepared for a world where massive AI is certain, and will be everywhere.
  13. Matt Rendall. The CEO and Co-Founder of OTTO Motors, Rendall is responsible for driving the strategic commercialization of industrial telerobotics and autonomous system as well as the strategic vision for the Company. Attend his solo presentation “Robots vs Jobs: Technological Displacement is Here” on Tuesday, March 14.
  14. Heather Vescent. A professional social scientist, Vescent is the creative director of The Future of Money series, producer and creator of 3 short future films, including “Fly Me to the Moon;” which was nominated for Most Important Futures Award by the Association of Professional Futurists. She will lend her expertise to the “AI and the Suburbanization of the Mind” session on Thursday, March 16.
  15. Mariya Yao. An experience designer and strategist focused on emerging technologies, Yao is the founder and Creative Director at Xanadu. This agency helps brands build engaging and effective businesses and products that delight users and improve profitability. Sign up for her workshop “Artificial Intelligence & Bots: Strategy & Execution” on Monday, March 13.

Click here to find even more AI-focused sessions at SXSW 2017. Attend all these panels and presentations (plus take advantage of hundreds of amazing networking opportunities) by purchasing a badge on this page. Also, learn how we have improved the March Magic experience by increasing badge functionality. This short video explains it all!


Hugh Forrest tries to write four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts generally cover technology-related trends. When not attempting to wordsmith or meditating, he serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW in Austin.


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