AI takes centre stage: SXSW 2023

SXSW 2023 has just come to a close in Austin, and it's been an absolute whirlwind of groundbreaking ideas, products and innovations. Let's delve into the key takeaways poised to reshape our world.

Startup spotlight

AI was the prominent trend showcased at this year's SXSW Pitch event - spanning immersive reality, deepfake detection, smart data, fashion and sustainability. The event drew a diverse range of startups from different corners of the world, including Norway, Germany, London, Brazil, Taiwan, and the Middle East:

PentoPix (London, UK)
Show & Entertainment, Media & Content

PentoPix is a company revolutionising the world of storytelling with its AI-assisted technology that transforms text into stunning 3D animations. The company's mission is to democratise 3D animation for all levels of creators.

Reality Defender (New York, NY)
Artificial Intelligence, Robotics & Voice

Reality Defender’s deepfake detection platform empowers enterprises to flag fraudulent users and content (audio, visual, documents). Their API and app provides real-time risk scoring, reporting, alerts, and forensics review. 

Climatiq (Berlin, Germany)
Enterprise & Smart Data

Climatiq is providing the building blocks to deliver carbon intelligence at scale. Their headless API: carbon calculation engine can be integrated into any software or used to accelerate the development of new sustainability solutions.

General Prognostics GPx (Boston, MA)
Food, Nutrition & Health

GPx is revolutionising remote chronic disease management with the world's first Bloodless Blood Tests. It allows physicians to remotely and non-invasively monitor blood biomarkers that are vital for managing chronic disease, similar to continuous glucose monitoring but without needles.

Reach Pathways (Chicago, IL)
Future of Work

REACH is the college and career pathway and the nexus of companies and communities. REACH connects top talent with top opportunities within a “metaversity” ecosystem. 

SXD Ai (New York, NY)
Innovative World Technologies

SXD is a tech-powered design platform turning creative visions into zero fabric waste clothing with beautiful design, lower cost, and lower carbon footprint. 

Numbers Protocol (Taipei, Taiwan)
Metaverse & Web3

Numbers Protocol is the first asset-centric cross-network protocol, their mission is building the most comprehensive solution to make digital media traceable and verifiable.

Urban Machine (Oakland, CA)
Smart Cities, Transportation & Logistics

Urban Machine (UM), is on a mission to build a sustainable future by salvaging millions of tons of wood waste from construction and demolition. With AI capable robots, UM reclaims old wood for reuse into locally sourced, premium lumber products.

An exciting future

AI and me

Assistive computing stole the show this year, with generative AI promising to supercharge productivity. As Futurist Amy Webb aptly put it, “You will never think alone again.” Delving deeper, AI transcends mere creation and extends to the realm of connection. Just as we form relationships with fellow humans and pets, why not develop meaningful relationships with AI? 

The contenders of SXSW Pitch 2023 illustrate how AI is becoming increasingly integrated into various fields, and how it can enhance our relationships with technology. For instance, Aiba is on a mission to deliver safe digital lives for kids and teenagers by detecting and preventing unwanted cyber bullying. 

As AI becomes more integrated into our daily lives, it is not a stretch to see AI taking on the role of a therapist, nanny, or friend. While the nature of these relationships may be different, AI-powered empathy can be a strength, removing shame or inhibition from interactions.

Web3 and metaverse

Despite tech winter and the dampened enthusiasm surrounding metaverse, crypto, NFTs and digital assets more broadly - this is not the time to rest on one's laurels. There is a need for a more pragmatic discussion about the value chain and customer experiences in Web 3.0 and the metaverse. It's time to get strategic about where to play and what experiences to deliver in this brave new world.

The edge

Lastly, while not necessarily a primary takeaway, an intriguing development is the advancement of Brain Computer Interfaces. With Neuralink now facing mainstream competition from Synchron, a technology that links to the human brain via blood vessels. This is the first BCI to enter clinical trials in the US. Sparking curiosity about how this might revolutionise experiences in the future, from thought-driven navigation to unlocking previously unimaginable levels of reality.

SXSW Austin 2023 proved to be a hotbed of innovative ideas and technological advancements. From the remarkable startups that captured the attention of the world to generative AI set to transform productivity, SXSW painted a picture of an exciting future - and I for one am glad that I never have to think alone again.

Kristina Craig

Kristina is Head of Innovation at News Corp Australia, responsible for growth strategy, ventures, and investment. Kristina brings over 15 years experience working with corporates and startups across Asia Pacific and North America. She is a tech enthusiast and advises multiple Artificial Intelligence and Web 3.0 based startups and was previously a founding mentor at Stone & Chalk.