SXSW: March 15 2015

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Today was another SXSW Interactive day for me, with one film thrown in for good measure. I didn’t see much of Bill, but I believe he did the exact opposite and attended mostly movies. I also wandered down a few aisles of the huge trade show that opened today. But it’s been a long day, so perhaps I’ll write about that another time…

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Extreme Bionics: The End of Disabilities
MIT professor Hugh Herr explained that Bionics research starts with mapping all systems of the body. He discussed some research projects in four focus areas:

  • Brain IO – using light receptors to cure blindness
  • Body IO – how to grow nerves to control bionic limbs
  • Biomechatronic Body Parts – computational assistance for bionic limbs
  • Regenerative  Body Parts – stem cell repair to spinal injuries

As a double amputee, he created several types of mechanical legs that allowed him to even surpass his previous rock climbing capabilities. His overarching message: Disability can be overcome with technology.

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Bill Gurley and Malcolm Gladwell in Conversation
Bill is a venture capitalist and Malcolm is a writer for The New Yorker. Their conversation started with the topic of health care. They marveled at incentives in place for doctors today, and how this is the exact opposite of what entrepreneurs do. Bill thinks that high deductibles will create a better environment for buyers and shoppers. They recommend reading the book Catastrophic Care. Next they turned to Uber, where Bill is a board member. He believes that Uber has created many jobs, allowed a flexible lifestyle, and lowered DWIs. Malcolm noted that this is also good for the elderly. However the flip side is that this type of business may lower jobs in the automotive industry. Other topics included driverless cars, hacking, and drug testing in sports.

Deep: What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves
James Nestor explained that he was sent by Outside magazine to cover the free dive world championships. This prompted him to investigate human’s relationship to the ocean. He showed a video and explained how the body changes at each stage of the descent and ascent.

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NPR and PBS: Public Media, Reaching New Publics
Lauren Saks (PBS) and Shereen Marisol Meraji (NPR) led a discussion on how the public broadcasting TV and radio legacy is being expanded beyond their traditional audience. For example, PBS Digital Studios is now available on YouTube and NPR’s CodeSwitch is targeted for younger audiences of color.

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Deep Web
The black market website Silk Road and its creator Ross Ulbricht are the subject of this documentary by Alex Winter. The film questions the precedents related to civil and digital rights that are being established by this case. This was another world premiere held at SXSW.

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