When Robots Make You Cry at SXSW

By Matias Jaramillo, Director of Digital Initiatives       

This article could be about the SXSW experience, or about constantly feeling you are missing out on some amazing panel happening in the room next door, or the anguish felt when you see that more than a hundred people want to attend the same talk you picked, or about the amazing brand activations happening all over town…or about trying to get into the RSVP of the Facebook party. But no, this article won’t be about that.

So what will it be about? (I want to make this fun to you, dear reader) It will be about all the buzz words that kept popping up during my 10 days at SXSW; the words that ignited my curiosity.


Social Payments
It seems that pretty much any retailer/store/vendor wants to get online. And, they’ll just do it with the tools at hand. This is something I love about the internet. It allows individuals, groups or businesses to adopt a DIY attitude to get their stuff online. People use whatever tools are freely available to them: Think Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram and Messenger.

My take from listening to people talk about social payments? Facebook will become a global open market with a single Facebook currency.


The next step in the interaction between robots and humans is called Discussion Oriented conversations. This means that robots no longer just become the receptor of any type of command. Instead, the new capability of understanding discussion-oriented systems will allow robots to participate in conversations and even arguments.

My impression from participating in one of these conversations with two robots is that we will grow emotionally attached to machines. This will create a new space for the business of companionship, care of the young and the elderly or for long journeys into space. At SXSW, I had a profound and emotional experience with two robots. I felt like this was truly a glimpse into a future where we will share the world with them.




UBI: Universal Basic Income
What will happen when robots and artificial intelligence replace a gigantic chunk of human labor? The solution right now is to design a Universal Basic Income for all. This would make humans a really cheap commodity that pretty much has no purpose in the way society functions today. This is a scary thought. Extremely scary.

This made me think of Bruce Sterling describing this tech bonanza into AI and robots as “a human desire to create humans that we always wanted to be: perfect, extremely smart and efficient.” So is this all worth it? What will become of us if that becomes a reality?


IOT – Dissolve Into the Background of Life
For the Internet of Things to take off, it will need to dissolve seamlessly into the background of our daily lives. The challenge resides in communicating the benefits of these objects connected to the mesh of life and Internet.

I believe the answer to the principal challenge of getting consumers to adopt IOT resides in communicating the basic tangible benefits of having a talking coffeemaker or a television fridge connected to Amazon. How can we create an emotional bond to our talking houses?


Machine Made Creativity
This is happening now, not in a broad scale, but it is happening. Yes, machines and algorithms are part of our creative toolbox. They are already helping with writing scripts, editing video, choosing the cast for a commercial and even recommending wardrobes.

This reality has made me think that we must try to embrace technologies that are available to us and allow them to take a role in our creative process. Using Watson and machine learning programs will add an unexpected and refreshing voice to our creative process.

So far it’s all ok; machines are not ready to be originators…at least not yet.


Making the Mundane Magical
There was no shortage of talk about Augmented Reality. And what I like most about it was the idea of making something mundane magical, where any experience like walking to the bus station, or walking through the aisles of your local Wal-Mart could become an experience from another world.

This got me thinking that we as creatives and storytellers will soon have a gigantic new canvas with which to play around. On the other hand, what scares me about the new media outlet (a.k.a. our everyday world) is spam. I do not want to see the world covered with spam.

Ten days at SXSW was no easy feat. One might expect that I am decompressing from information and experiential overload. But that is not the case. Stay tuned for more…


Dieste Inc