Government Track at SXSW: March 9–12

The Forrest Four-Cast: March 5, 2018

Scheduled March 9–12 at the Hilton Austin as well as the Austin Convention Center, the Government Track at SXSW focuses on areas related to government policy on all levels as well as privacy issues on both the personal and corporate level. Ten of the most intriguing sessions in this track include:

Can Small-Donor Progressives Win Local Elections? Bernie Sanders showed that big money isn’t needed to run a presidential campaign, changing the national calculus. But can the same be done in Texas? Will 2018 be the year small dollars make the difference at the local level? Join us for a candid conversation between Ryan Grim, The Intercept’s DC Bureau Chief, and Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas (pictured above), who is running against Ted Cruz for the US Senate. Scheduled Saturday, March 10 at the Hilton Austin.

CNN’s Jake Tapper in Conversation with Bernie Sanders. In his first appearance at SXSW, Senator Bernie Sanders will sit down with CNN’s Jake Tapper to discuss news of day, politics, and the future of the country. Scheduled Friday, March 9 at the Austin Convention Center.

Convergence Keynote: Mayor Sadiq Khan. The first-ever non-US politician to keynote at SXSW, London Mayor Sadiq Khan will focus his presentation on one of the biggest challenges today facing Britain, America and countries across Europe — how we ensure that advances in technology are utilized for the benefit of everyone in society. Scheduled Monday, March 12 at the Austin Convention Center.

Diplomacy vs AI: Foreign Policy, Bots & Blockchain. Emerging tech is having a profound effect on the way governments interact. Bots can react to events, creating content and narratives at machine speed, in real-time — but without the checks and balances of human interaction. AR, blockchain, and quantum computing can change how societies communicate. What happens when the newest technologies collide with the world’s second oldest profession? How can governments, civil society and business engage with — and not be manipulated by — these new tools? Scheduled Tuesday, March 12 at the Palm Door on Sixth Street.

God Save Texas: The Lone Star State and America. Texas is a red state in the heart of Trumpland that hasn’t elected a Democrat to a statewide office in more than twenty years — but it is also a state in which minorities already form a majority (including the largest number of Muslim adherents in the United States.) In this session, New Yorker writer and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright will explore how Texas not only reflects our country back as it is, but as it was and as it might be. Scheduled Friday, March 9 at the Hilton Austin.

Hacking our Democracy and Discourse. Social media has profoundly changed the way we communicate, participate in the political sphere, and consume news. However, revelations driven by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference have also highlighted the implications for national security. This session includes Wired news editor Brian Barrett and US Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia). Scheduled Saturday, March 10 at the Hilton Austin.

How Gerrymandering is Reshaping Politics. Every 10 years, states redraw voting districts in order to keep up with a changing population. But the very politicians who will be elected by the maps draw them, meaning there’s strong incentive to create districts that maximize political advantage and, in the process, dilute the will of voters and destroy democracy. How has this gerrymandering affected politics today, and how can we work to stop it in 2020? Scheduled Sunday, March 11 at the Hilton Austin.

How to Break an Industry. Vox editor-at-large Ezra Klein covers common thread linking what’s wrong in Congress, in Silicon Valley, in the media, on Wall Street, and elsewhere. He will look at wrongdoing in these spaces as the faults of individuals, but individuals respond to the systems they’re part of, and it’s the systems that are broken. Scheduled Friday, March 9 at the Austin Convention Center.

Tech’s Evolving Role in Disaster Response. As Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit our coasts last year, technology was deployed to fast track disaster relief efforts. Innovative tech companies were uniquely positioned to connect, inform and save lives. Airbnb connected evacuees with shelter, Facebook marked loved ones safe, and Lyft offered free transportation. Hear from an expert panel on the latest trends, lessons learned, future applications, and how federal, state and local government agencies are adapting to deploy these new tools. Scheduled Sunday, March 11 at the Hilton Austin.

Technology, Media, and Politics. Guaranteed to be one of the liveliest sessions of SXSW! Symone Sanders, CNN political analyst and former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders, will explain to Guy Kawasaki of Canva how technology and media are changing politics and culture. In other words, you’ll get the inside scoop on how politics and Washington really works — and how they will work in the future too. Scheduled Saturday, March 10 at the Hilton Austin.

Badges for SXSW are still available. You can also still find lots of great, convenient lodging. For other vital information about March March 2018, visit these eight helpful links. See you soon in Austin!

Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.




Celebrating creativity at SXSW. Also, reading reading reading, the Boston Red Sox, good food, exercise when possible and sleep sleep sleep.

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Hugh Forrest

Hugh Forrest

Celebrating creativity at SXSW. Also, reading reading reading, the Boston Red Sox, good food, exercise when possible and sleep sleep sleep.

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