SXSW: March 9 2018

SXSW has begun! On this first day, I attended SXSW Interactive sessions and then finished with a movie. In-between I searched for free food. Just a typical first SXSW day.

Let’s Tech the Borders Down 

Josephine Goube is the CEO of Techfugees. She believes that the current refugee situation is not a refugee crisis, but “a crisis of hospitality.” She is from outside Calais, France, which is 33 km from the UK and 177 km from London. She has always seen migrants coming through this area, heading to the UK. She explained that a wall was built in Calais in 2015. In that same year, 1.5M refugees came to Europe. The non-profit Techfugees began in 2015 and now has 25 chapters throughout the world. Some Techfugees projects included wifi backpacks, using Blockchain technology for currency in refugee camps, and refugee coding boot camps. She said that many refugees arrive with smartphones. They are first looking for information and then looking for education and employment. Goube encouraged the attendees to connect with refugees through her organization, UNICEF, and other online apps/platforms.

CNN’s Jake Tapper in Conversation with Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders began by saying that he wanted to talk about the most important issues facing this country today: inequality, the power of money in politics, immigration, and gun violence. Sanders is opposed to the current bill related to deregulating banks. He feels that there has been a “sea change” regarding gun violence issues. He supports expanding background checks, remove loopholes for gun shows, and ban sale of assault weapons. He is working to provide legal protection for DACA recipients and provide a path to citizenship. He thinks the average American citizen is disgusted with the political process today. Sanders: Stormy Daniels. Tapper: You keep mentioning her. Sanders: Not as much as CNN does. Sander’s biggest complaint is that Trump tries to divide rather than unite us: “We are strongest when we stand together.” Sanders believes that calling, writing and speaking our elected leaders does make an impact.

By 2 PM, I was hungry and went on a search for free food. I visited the Land O Lakes location that I saw yesterday. No butter, although I did have a bottle of “refined milk.” Hmmm. I walked down Rainey Street. Except for the veggie items at the Powerplant by Vega house, I didn’t find much free food.

God Save Texas: The Lone Star State and America

Author Lawrence Wright was interviewed by Jonathan Tilove of the Austin American-Statesman. It was a wide-ranging discussion. Wright talked about growing up in Texas and then coming back to work here. He noted that Texas is a land of opportunity, no matter who you are or where you come from. He has lived in Austin since the 1980s. He told an amusing story about when his neighbor Matthew McConaughey was arrested for disturbing the peace. Tilove asked: Has Trump taken the pressure off Texas? Wright thinks somewhat, however Texas still has a powerful Congressional delegation and influences politics due to our oil and gas money. Wright talked about meeting conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in 2006.

Do More. Do Things That Were Previously Impossible

The speaker, Tim O’Reilly, is author of the book, What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us. He talked about how technology is letting us solve real-world problems. An example is a company called Zipline which delivers urgently-needed medicines via drones. He argued that technology does not reduce jobs. When Amazon added 45,000 robots, they also added 250,000 jobs. He believes that “frontier firms” are more productive and eventually pay everyone more.

Final Portrait

I ended my day with a screening of Final Portrait at the Stateside. Due to projector issues, the movie started an hour late. At least one of the stars, Armie Hammer, made an appearance, but moderator Louis Black had to cut the Q&A time short due to the delay.

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