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SXSW Moments: Public Interest AI

The Forrest Four-Cast: June 14, 2019

SXSW 2019 showcased dozens of panels on artificial intelligence and the ways in which the reach of impact of AI continues to grow. Take a listen to the below panels to discover how AI is and may impact public services, the government, and democracy.

How to Bring Public Safety Into the 21st Century
From “CSI” to “Minority Report,” popular culture portrays public safety technology as highly advanced. In reality, most first responders are transported back in time when they go to work, using poorly designed legacy systems and devices to respond to 911 calls and investigate crime. With 48,000 police and fire departments and 7,000 emergency communication centers in the U.S., there’s a critical need to empower communities with modern public safety technology. Topics in this session include the barriers to adoption for cloud and mobile software, AI, cybersecurity, and data sharing among fire and police departments. Going beyond technological trends, panelists provide perspectives on how collaboration between governments and the tech community can shape the future of public safety.

Dear Gov’t: Regulate Us! Sincerely, AI Industry
AI has a regulation problem. Many organizations flaunt the ethical standards they’ve created for AI and try to claim that they’re on the right side of history. But rules that go beyond self-regulation are needed to ensure automation is beneficial for all, and to prevent untenable concentration of power and wealth.

This has become a driving force for Montreal native Jean-François Gagne, who co-founded Element AI in October 2016. Born out of an AI research lab connected to the world’s top academic institutions, Element AI is an artificial intelligence company that turns cutting-edge research into scalable solutions that make businesses safer, stronger, and more agile.

Democracy and AI: Delivery Better Services
Why can’t government services be more like Netflix? What if they were? Panelists from around the world look at some of the most advanced government services, focusing on big data, AI, privacy, and how to leverage this new tech and decentralization to deliver better services and stronger democracies. Led by the likes of Estonia and New Zealand, government services are increasingly automated and personalized, leveraging big data, blockchain and AI. But when does 1-click democracy begin to erode engagement and threaten ideals at the core of our democracies, like privacy and freedom from discrimination?

Deepfakes: What Should We Fear? What Can We Do?
As more sophisticated, more personalized, and more convincing audio and video manipulation emerges, how do we get beyond apocalyptic discussion around malicious deepfakes and other AI-manipulated synthetic media? Sam Gregory, Program Director of WITNESS, discusses WITNESS’ collaborations with technologists, journalists and human rights activists, and explores state-of-the-art usages and potential solutions (and how we fight the dark side of a faked video + audio future.

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JFK 2020: Could JFK be the Next American President?
In the groundbreaking campaign ‘JFK Unsilenced’, the Dublin-based agency Rothco enabled John F. Kennedy to deliver the speech he was to make on the day he died. They now ask: could JFK win the next Presidential race? If AI can bring back JFK’s voice, could it bring back his decisions, morals, and policies? Could we then apply them to make him, or any AI, a viable candidate for the Presidency?

Al Byrnes, the multi-award winning Executive Producer at Rothco Accenture Interactive, is relentless in his mission to find new ways to make impossible ideas possible. In producing ‘JFK Unsilenced’ for The Times, he was instrumental in recreating the speech JFK was due to deliver on the day of his assassination, using groundbreaking artificial intelligence and audio engineering techniques. A world first, the project picked up many international awards, including a Grand Prix Cannes Lions for Creative Data.

More Memories from SXSW 2019
Change is Coming
Urban Mobility
It’s Time for Sports!
Saving the Ocean
Military Matters
Women’s Health
Social Media Power
Telling New Media Stories
Marvel’s Magic
Future Health
May the Fourth
Women in Tech
Growing Unicorns
Thriving at Work
Making a Difference
Fighting Fake News
Disaster Response
Hacking Democracy
Pete Buttigieg
Kara Swisher
Arlan Hamilton

Do these audio recordings inspire you to get involved in a SXSW session next year? Enter your forward-thinking speaking proposal for March 2020 via the SXSW PanelPicker. Speaking proposals for next year’s event are accepted via this interface from July 1 through July 19.

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.

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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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