SXSW 2017: Vatican And AI Experts Join This Year’s Conference/Festival

This year’s SXSW (South by Southwest) Conference and Festivals will have an interesting pool of attendees as the Vatican and other AI experts are expected to join in.

SXSW has always been popular for its star-studded stages. Since this is an event where the film, music, and tech industries collide, it is normal to see the likes of Kelly Rowland in one of its events.

However, this year the Vatican seemed to have taken interest in the SXSW as they are set to participate in the panel called, “Compassionate Disruption: Innovation and The Vatican.”

The panel will include Bishop Paul Tighe from the Holy See, Christopphe Krachten from Videodays, Dr. Michael Hertl from the Catholic TV Office, and Helen Osman from the World Catholic Association for Communication.

According to the event description, the participation of the Vatican would be a very insightful. Existing for over 2,000 years, the Vatican has a massive community of about 1.2 billion people around the globe. Though the institution can be called traditional, they have caught up with modern media and integrated it with their messaging approach.

Kelly Rowland's 'Chasing Destiny' SXSW Interview [Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for BET]
Kelly Rowland's 'Chasing Destiny' SXSW Interview [Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for BET]

“The first-of-its kind SXSW discussion will shed light on how the world’s oldest and largest community is adapting to and leveraging new media to encourage a new form of disruption: one guided by understanding, empathy and compassion.”

This is definitely a first for both parties as it is rarely known for the Catholic Church to join in conferences. At the same time, SXSW has not featured a religion-focused event yet until now.

According to Hugh Forrest, director of SXSW Interactive, this will be an “exciting global phenomenon that has the potential to foster understanding and influence across continents and platforms.”

“The Faith & Technology Meetup and Compassionate Disruption panel represent two huge opportunities for anyone committed to creating and driving meaningful innovation.”

Panel Program Director and Moderator Helen Osman noted that it was the pope who pushed for expanding their message with the help of technology.

“The Vatican’s involvement with SXSW is a demonstration of the Church’s solidarity with those that recognize the great responsibility that comes with this power. We hope our Sunday morning meetup and panel offer festival-goers the chance to participate in a conversation that reaches across continents and all faith and platform communities.”

In the meantime, as SXSW continues to impress its participants with the lineup, they are also adding in artificial intelligence experts in the events.

GQ Jam In The Van Artist House, Hosted By Hormel Taco Meats [Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images for GQ Jam In The Van]
GQ Jam In The Van Artist House, Hosted By Hormel Taco Meats [Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images for GQ Jam In The Van]

Forrest said that AI is set to be “one of the biggest themes at SXSW 2017.” From March 10 to 16, AI events and sessions will happen across the conference. There are 15 AI experts scheduled to attend the event, according to The Revoluzionne.

Dr. Kate Darling from MIT Media Lab will be participating. Dr. Darling explores the topic on social robotics and conducts studies on the human-robot interaction.

The product lead at Alexa Charlie Kindle will be at the “Future of Intelligent Living” session on March 16 to speak about to power of Amazon Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices.

Austin-based investor and entrepreneur Tom Meredith will also talk on March 16 about the “Next Four Years of AI” and how the tech industry will adjust during the Trump era.

The creative director and founder of Xanadu Mariya Yao will also be at the SXSW 2017 for her workshop called, “Artificial Intelligence & Bots: Strategy and Execution.”

A government panel discussion called, “AI and Deep Learning Tech: Are We Ready?” will feature Chani Wiggins, Rohit Prasad, and Suzan Delbene from the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Vatican and the AI events will be available for Platinum and other selected tickets.

The SXSW 2017 is set to happen in Austin from March 10 to 19.

[Feature Image by Markus Giliar-GES Sportfoto/Pool/Bongarts/Getty Images]