SXSW: March 13 2017

I attended several interesting Interactive sessions today, looked around the Trade Show floor, ate healthy three meals (for a change), and watched a new comedy series. A fine SXSW day!

Collaboration Innovation in the Digital Health Age
CEOs Alex Gorsky (Johnson & Johnson) and Ginni Rometty, (IBM) were interviewed by Dr. Clay Johnston, Dean of UT Austin’s Dell Medical School. Gorsky is also on the Board of Directors for IBM. Rometty said that data—cognitive technology—will be at the center of healthcare and explained that IBM is building Watson for Oncology. She talked about security and data privacy approaches for protecting health data for both providers and consumers. For their employees, both companies are focused on wellness and prevention and using these technologies as part of their benefits packages. Big technologies that sit at the intersection of healthcare and technology: Cognitive Technology (AI), Blockchain (distributed database), and Internet of Things. IBM will be doing genome testing for Joe Biden’s cancer initiative. Both noted that collaborations will be needed to achieve the most breakthroughs in healthcare.

The Future of Work: How to Innovate with Inclusion
Candice Morgan was raised in Harlem and studied at Carnegie Mellon as an undergrad. She got her masters in London and then became a diversity consultant for ten years. She discussed several studies from this time that were related to women in business. In 2014, she decided to move to San Francisco to become the Head of Diversity at Pinterest. Within two years, they increased the number of underrepresented employees in their workforce and hired a female senior engineer. She shared some of their lessons learned: It’s not enough to set a goal—you have to explain why it’s important; Hyper-growth can challenge progress (Pinterest has grown from 500 to 1200+ employees in two years.)

Once again, I visited some pop-up places outside of the Austin Convention Center. Most were disappointing, but WE DC (as in Washington DC) had an excellent—and healthy—lunch buffet. I arrived 45 minutes early for this afternoon’s Keynote Speaker, Adam Grant, but was so far back in the wait line that I gave up and visited the Trade Show instead.

Kimball Musk on Trust: The Currency of our Generation
Fast Company editor Amy Farley interviewed Kimball Musk, who had originally been a tech entrepreneur. He followed his passion, went to cooking school, and opened a restaurant called The Kitchen in 2004 in Boulder. For a while, he worked again in tech until he had a serious accident in 2010, which made him decide to go back to food. He now has an empire of restaurants: The Kitchen, Hedge Row, and Next Door. He is opening new restaurants in these chains in the US heartland. He said real food is all about trust: trust to nourish our bodies, trust in the farmers, and trust in our planet. He is experimenting with a lower-cost restaurant called Kitchenette in Memphis. Musk also started Learning Gardens in 350 schools and Square Roots to encourage food-related entrepreneurs.

Veep: A Conversation with the Cast and Showrunner
I caught the last 20 minutes of this fun session, with Chuck Todd interviewing the cast and showrunner of Veep. I’ve seen some of them at SXSW before…I guess they just like coming to Austin. Plus they seem to enjoy working with each other. How long can this show keep going? Julia Louis-Dreyfus: Another 30-40 years easily. Attendees received a signed poster as we left the room.

FBI General Counsel James Baker in Conversation with Jeffrey Herbst, CEO of the Newseum
James Baker replaced FBI Director James Comey, who was originally scheduled for this session. Baker said that he worries about how to protect and handle data consistent with US law. He noted that he is a lawyer, not a technologist, and used the word “challenge” many times. Encryption is a major challenge for law enforcement (he also mentioned this several times). He said that, during a three-month trial period last year, the FBI found that 43% of the devices brought to them could not be unencrypted. He did not comment on the recent Wikileaks news.

I Love Bekka & Lucy
We were treated to the entire season of this new comedy called I Love Bekka & Lucy (each episode was under 15 minutes). The show is about two eccentric best friends and a boyfriend and a neighbor. It was very entertaining. The writer/director, producers, and cast were in the audience and answered questions afterwards.

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