The Verge returns to Austin for another week of brand activations, breakfast tacos and bold predictions about the future of technology and culture. That's right, it's SXSW, when industries as disparate as artificial intelligence, social media marketing, virtual reality, film, television and music collide in the heart of the Texas cultural mecca.
For the uninitiated, SXSW is a kind of conference conglomerate. It combines high-level sessions of technology and the entertainment industry with a couple of long-term film and music festivals. Among all the talks, concerts and screenings, there is a dizzying series of sometimes entertaining and almost always absurd marketing acrobatics that take place in the name of big brands. SXSW is the only place where you can see the Game of Thrones showrunners speak in a conference room just down the street from a virtual reality experience with the McDonald brand in an event space that, later that night, it will house a popular independent band from Brooklyn.
The Verge will be in Austin broadcasting The Vergecast live on Twitter and recording a live episode of our podcast Why You're That Button, and we'll also be on the ground covering all the events at the intersection of technology and pop culture . For those who are interested in the uproar, or the attendees who are curious about what is worth seeing in Austin, we have prepared a list of our most anticipated speakers, technology trends and film and television premieres.
This is not a complete list; To see a full summary of what is happening at SXSW this week and next, it is best to check the official and comprehensive programming website here. For our full coverage, be sure to check out theverge.com/sxsw throughout the festival this March.
The greatest speakers in technology
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
Eddy Cue: One of the largest panels this year at SXSW features Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president in charge of software and internet services. Cue essentially runs the App Store, as well as Apple's growing service business that includes everything from iCloud to Apple Music, and the company's growing original video efforts. He was one of the brains of the iTunes Store along with Steve Jobs and helped turn Apple's MP3 and, later, his smartphone business into some of the most successful software ecosystems in the world. He's talking at SXSW with CNN's Dylan Byers about the future of media curation.
Ev Williams: Ev Williams is a Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur behind some of the most important web products of the last 15 years. He co-founded Blogger, sold it to Google by millions and later founded the company that would become Twitter, where Williams served as CEO for two years. After his posting on Twitter, Williams founded the publication platform Medium. He will be at SXSW talking with Peter Kafka of Recode and Mic Cory Haik about the impetus towards video content among news editors and what role technology companies owning platforms play in influencing the format and style of the information being disseminated. in the web.
Melinda Gates: Half of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates runs the largest private foundation in the world with her husband, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, with the goal of using their immense wealth to reduce poverty, expand attention medical and increase educational opportunities around the world. At SXSW, Gates will speak with TaskRabbit CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot and talent attorney Nina Shaw about the nature of work in the 21st century.
Tristan Harris: Google's former design ethicist, Tristan Harris, is the founder of Time Well Spent, a non-profit organization dedicated to reforming how Silicon Valley designs its products to help our applications and hardware align better with human values. Praised by the industry and seen as an influence on figures such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Harris will speak about the quest to "ethically manipulate minds" in an era of "fake news, computational propaganda and technology products designed in an addictive way" .
Susan Wojcicki: Based on the SXSW theme of cross-examining technology platforms in the Trump era, fake news and state-sponsored propaganda, YouTube executive director Susan Wojcicki will speak with Wired editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson about navigate the murky waters of a responsibility platform. The duo will also discuss the growing influence of YouTube, its class of first video creators, and how the site is helping to redefine the media. Oh, and there will probably be a question or two about Logan Paul.
Steve Huffman: Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman took up the reins of the social news site in 2015 at a time of great controversy when Reddit was caught between its commitments to freedom of expression and its acceptance of increasingly odious communities intolerant Since then, Huffman has realigned Reddit's values with those of more traditional Silicon Valley companies, banning certain communities and updating their policies to match. At SXSW, Huffman will speak with Inc reporter Christine Lagorio-Chafkin about how Reddit returned to glory through changes in products, policies and leadership that refer to the broader responsibilities of the technology industry in 2018.
The greatest speakers in culture
Darren Aronofsky: The director of Black Swan and Noah, Darren Aronofsky, had fun last year with Trippy mother, uncomfortable and deeply allegorical, a provocative film that addressed the Book of Genesis and climate change to the same extent. Aronofsky is a keynote speaker at SXSW, and it will be fascinating to hear his thoughts on the Oscars, the role of the independent film in 2018, and the purpose and purpose of challenging the art.
Lena Dunham: Girl creator Lena Dunham will be at SXSW this year talking with Samantha Barry of Glamor about "authenticity" in the media and what it means to talk and connect with a female audience. Dunham, who has recently made the headlines in controversial comments, especially from reproduction rights to the #MeToo movement, is known to offer insightful and genuine interviews, and this is probably no different.
Ta-Nehisi Coates: Coates is not only an award-winning journalist and novelist and an enormously influential voice in the conversation about racism and black identity in the United States, but he is also a famous comic writer. Having written the latest series of Black Panther comics, Coates has been selected to write a new Captain America comic. Coates will be at SXSW with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic talking about everything from the importance of Marvel films to how we think and fight injustice and bigotry in the Trump era.
Rian Johnson: The director of The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson, is now the royalty of Star Wars, and received a new trilogy of Disney films to expand the franchise beyond the saga of Skywalker. Johnson will speak at SXSW with his lifelong collaborator and producer, Ram Bergman, who helped Johnson create the science fiction classics Brick and Looper, which helped him achieve a Lucasfilm dream.
Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy: Westworld presenters Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have created one of the most talked-about and talked-about television shows of the past decade. With Season 2 coming to HBO on April 22, fans could not be more publicized to return to the remains of Stillwater after the shocking end of season 1 that aired almost 18 months ago. Nolan and Joy will be at SXSW with Westworld cast members James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright and Jason Tanz from Wired. Not only that, but HBO is also bringing an immersive two-acre interactive adventure to Austin to trigger the second season.
Ernest Cline: Ready Player One author Ernest Cline is only a few weeks away from watching his pop culture reference novel on the big screen, in an adaptation directed by none other than Steven Spielberg. The movie will be released on March 29, and Cline is scheduled to speak at SXSW on March 12 in a conversation with David Baszucki, CEO and co-founder of the multiplayer multiplayer game platform Roblox.
Technological trends to follow
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
Artificial intelligence and automation: will a robot take your work? If you are American, most of your fellow citizens think so. Therefore, in this year's SXSW, you will find many panels on robots, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and robotics. These range across the gamut, from dystopian to practical, to downright upbeat and touch virtually every aspect of modern life, including art, work, health care and Internet commentary. One of the biggest events will come on Tuesday when Google futurologist Ray Kurzweil discusses how artificial intelligence can "intensify human intelligence in the same way that a lens can intensify the power of the sun." (This may sound threatening, but this is Ray. We're talking about Kurzweil, so he means it.) The flood of automation and Artificial Intelligence events is driven by trends, but unlike some technological trends, it's also genuinely relevant. for the life of most people. And if nothing else, you can see the comments of More Human Than Human, a "personal, playful" documentary about a filmmaker trying to replace himself with a robot.
Augmented and virtual reality: as we pointed out at CES this year, virtual reality has faded into the background as advertising has declined and consumers expect technology to achieve its ambitions. Meanwhile, augmented reality has taken on the mantle of new and futuristic technology in which we have placed our hopes and dreams of science fiction. Here at SXSW, there are a lot of AR and VR panels about the future of both industries, and let's not forget that virtual reality can see another increase in cultural relevance with Ernest Cline's Ready Player One that will hit theaters later this year. month. To that end, Warner Bros. has partnered with HTC to bring a Ready Player One experience to Live to Austin that promises to transport users to the fictional OASIS universe. Hopefully you do not need to memorize obscure references to the pop culture of the 80s to enjoy it.
The blockchain: What is blockchain, how does it work and why does the world seem to be everywhere? The term blockchain is nebulous and often refers to tangential forms of the underlying structure point-to-point of cryptocurrency systems. Now dominates the conversation in industries such as artificial intelligence, technology policy, finance, cloud computing and, yes, even cannabis startups (according to a sad tone currently in my email box). At SXSW, the exaggeration of blockchain is at a peak, with dozens of sessions and meetings dedicated to the burgeoning industry that do not seem to adequately separate the genuine from the shit. Making sense of all this is the surest way to see where this technology is going, and if it is the real business or, more than anything else, just another marketing tactic.
Social networks and democracy: increasing tensions can be found about how we obtain our information, and if we can trust it throughout this year's calendar. It is likely that Keynotes of Wojcicki and Harris address these issues in great depth, as well as a talk by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), who has pushed technological platforms to reveal more about how Russian operatives used them during elections. 2016. Other sessions will try to identify solutions to our information crisis, using artificial intelligence, for example, or placing more emphasis on the verification of the facts.
The most buzzing film and television releases
Isle of Dogs: director Wes Anderson's new stop-motion animated film, Isle of Dogs, will probably be SXSW's most talked-about film screening, which will take place on one of the last days of the festival and which will act as the official North. American premiere. The film will be released on March 23, so this will be an opportunity for critics and fans to watch the film before its general release. Starring a dizzying cast of high-profile voice actors such as Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray, Greta Gerwig and Scarlett Johansson, Isle of Dogs is about a dystopian future in Japan where dogs are quarantined on an island full of garbage, the one that a boy named Atari goes out in search of his dog Spot.
Hereditary: even though Ari Aster's Hereditary was already screened at Sundance, the big explosion of the horror movie created in January will surely make it a SXSW movie that should not be missed. Starring The Sixth Sense and Little Miss Sunshine Toni Collette, along with The Downs, The Flops and Matilda The Musical, the prodigy Milly Shapiro, Hereditary explores the family's descent into the supernatural after the death of a grandmother who unleashes a malevolent force threatens to destroy their bodies and spirits. Called Exorcist of our generation, it is not aimed at the weak of heart.
Krypton: Syfy's new Superfine spinoff, Krypton, deals with the generations of the Man of Steel planets before their destruction. It focuses on the grandfather Seg-El of Kal-El / Clark Kent, who will play the relatively unknown actor Cameron Cuffe. Created by The Dark Knight trilogy writer David S. Goyer and Stargate producer Damian Kindler, Krypton will have his first screening episode at SXSW, before the premiere date of March 21.
The Last OG: Fresh out of his historic Oscar win for best script, Jordan Peele returns to television with a new TBS comedy series called The Last OG. The show stars Tracy Morgan as an ex-convict trying to rejoin his former life in Brooklyn. While Peele himself will not be in Austin, the episodes of The Last OG will be screened at the Paramount Theater, to be followed by a Q & A with director Jorma Taccone, Morgan, and co-star Tiffany Haddish.
Paradox: Recently, it seems that independent film festivals have shown many new directors who are also well-known actors, such as Idris Elba (whose Yardie premiered at Sundance this year), Rupert Everett (The Happy Prince, also at Sundance) Andy Serkis (Breathe debuted in Toronto in 2017), and Brie Larson (Unicorn Store, also in Toronto 2017). The last one to join the choir is Daryl Hannah, of the fame of Kill Bill and Blade Runner. Her directorial debut Paradox, which Netflix has just purchased for distribution, comes with a dreamy, not particularly revealing, description that describes her as a "Western tale of exorbitant and capricious music and love" that takes place "somewhere in the future future. "
Perspective: The director duo Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell first showed the 14-minute short film that would become the sci-fi film Perspective at SXSW 2014. At the time, my colleague Bryan Bishop called it "exciting and atmospheric". and "an example of how ingenuity and do-it-yourself mentality remain the most essential tools in any filmmaker's arsenal." The film was made with a small budget backed by Kickstarter funds to tell the story of a father and his daughter, an alien moon full of forests. Now, equipped with more cash and a longer run time, Earl and Caldwell have expanded Prospect into a larger science fiction vehicle, but focused on the same thematic core. The film will premiere at this year's SXSW on March 10.
A quiet place: the SXSW film festival will start this year with A Quiet Place. Written, directed and starring John Krasinski of The Office, A Quiet Place is a supernatural horror film about mysterious beings and killers who hunt for sound, forcing humans to live in complete and total silence. Krasinksi plays the father of a family of four in the film with his wife Emily Blunt, who plays the mother of the two young children in the film played by the child actors Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds. Paramount Pictures will release the film on April 6, so SXSW will be the first opportunity for critics and moviegoers to have the opportunity to watch the movie.