Optimism is alive and well and lives in the US

dan lacazeIf there’s one theme running through SXSW this year it’s the optimism of the US participants says Dan Lacaze.

During a SXSW panel discussion about the death of print media, the head of advertising at The New York Times said with absolute confidence that high quality inventory online is still scarce, and that they are incredibly optimistic about the future.

She argued The New York Times has always been an expert opinion, and will continue to curate content to deliver to a deep consumer need of freedom of speech, from a trusted news source. It’s hard to disagree.

There has been some interesting debate at SXSW about the rise of Artificial Intelligence, and the crowd seems to be divided into two distinct camps: dystopia and utopia! Today Eric Schmidt, the former CEO and current executive chairman of Google, said “technology will be one of the greatest forces of good for humankind”.

He believes our ability to judge, and the infinite memory capabilities of technology will combine in amazing ways.

The producers at Funny or Die believe so strongly in the power of comedy to connect with people, they’ve convinced Barack Obama to feature in their ridiculous skits.

A packed house saw Texan entrepreneur Bill Gurley and author Malcolm Gladwell chat about life, healthcare and technology. Gurley is a major investor in Uber (amongst other things) and sits on their board. He spoke eloquently and passionately about Uber reducing congestion on San Francisco’s streets, creating 50,000+ jobs per month globally and providing a utility for the both the elderly and millennials to access transport in a new, safe way.

Gurley is involved with another company that incentivises hackers around the world to crack corporate sites. They get paid for every successful hack, and he is creating leader boards by industry to appeal to their need for notoriety. It is incredible that he is turning potential highly skilled criminals into forensic heroes.

NASA are in SXSW and they described the $8 billion required to create the Hubble telescope as the most significant investment in mankind. The Hubble is 25 years old and has transformed our view on the world we live in.

They are building the Hubble’s successor and their mission is to solve questions like when was first light, and where are the origins of humankind?

One big takeout from this festival is that pioneering spirit is alive and well in the United States.

  • Dan Lacaze is group account director at BMF

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