SXSW – South by Southwest

Roseana Rocha
March 12, 2023 – 1:27 in the morning

Amy Webb: Trends should be seen in convergence (Credit: Roseani Rocha)

“Focus” is the word that marked this year’s presentation by Amy Webb, executive director of the Future Today Institute, on the second day of South by Southwest in two ways.

The first keynote speaker, her speech was scheduled for 10 o’clock. But when she took the stage, she thanked everyone who filled the Austin Convention Center, even more so knowing that some people got there around… 7am. And he also pointed out that “half of this public are Brazilians”.

It was no exaggeration. Amy Web’s presentations are always the center of attention and sensation at SXSW. This year, the queue left the internal space of the Congress very early and went down the floors of the building. This is due to the fact that its trend report is one of the most in-depth and research-based and the empathy with which it conveys good and bad news about the future.

“Foco” was also the topic of choice this year for the Tech Trends Report, which has been publishing for 16 years and made its debut on the SXSW stage in recent years. Out of 666 analyzed trends, this year’s report narrowed down the analysis to 35, which were later summarized in 14 themes. But the point, he said, is that trends should not be observed in isolation, but in convergence, with focus, because that’s where the essentials appear, defended Webb.

After warning of the fact that futurists cannot be “trend watchers” but act on them, Amy declared that “the Internet as we know it has come to an end”, referring to the evolution of data and the circulation of information that led to the situation in to which, if we used to search the Internet, now – especially after the evolution of tools and infrastructure for performing artificial intelligence – it is the Internet that searches us. And these AI systems are yet to become ten thousand times more powerful than they are today. The problem, says the futurologist, is that we are entering the “age of assisted computing”, but we are not ready for it, which can deepen social inequalities, from the preparation of children in schools to the adult workforce.

Below is a selection of seven of the 14 points highlighted in this year’s Technology Trends Report and the ways it offers companies to prepare for that future:


AI is a force multiplier in technological progress because it is the driver of other technologies and drives the evolution of business, government and society. Since 2010, perceptual AI – which detected signals like images and text – has been evolving into generative AI, which will be embedded in various consumer applications over the next 18 to 24 months. General purpose models will be commoditized in the near future. This will ensure that the features of the so-called “large language model” are integrated into each application. Some job categories may become obsolete.

How to prepare: Artificial intelligence should be part of every strategic plan because it spans multiple dimensions, from workforce automation to digital transformation, from day-to-day business processes to BI. It is imperative that executives and senior managers understand what AI is, what it is not, and what strategic value it brings to the business.


A decentralized web will have significant benefits for consumers and businesses will enable them to engage seamlessly. Health, food, supply chain, journalism and energy are some of the industries where the use of Web 3.0 will expand and new opportunities will emerge in the coming year. Digital identity is a key area of ​​development in the Web3 landscape, and for it to work, individuals will need methods of identification and ways to validate transactions, but the tools to do so are still in their infancy.

How to prepare: Web3 describes a collection of emerging technologies that will continue to evolve and mature over the next several decades; get to know, recognize and prioritize trends; explore gaps to gain new insights; develop a point of view; and create a vision for your organization (develop a long-term vision to fill key core technology gaps to drive investment, mergers and acquisitions, product development, talent acquisition, and planning decisions).


The metaverse – a shared virtual collective space – may not yet be fully developed, but its impact on industry and consumer interactions is already being felt in a big way. Interfaces will become more impressive as both spaces – virtual and physical world – are intertwined with rich experiences of digital media. The metaverse is not a single technology, protocol, or entity; means many different things to many different stakeholders. Executives need to be clear about the expectations and interests they will bring to the table. The inclusion of a virtual spatial presence only increases the need for humane and ethical safeguards for the responsible use of technology. XR technologies present as many accessibility challenges as opportunities.

How to prepare: Now is the time for focused experiments and learning in the short term and imaginative scenario planning in the long term, as industries rely on the disruptive potential of the new computing interfaces that will succeed the Internet-based smartphone.


Although challenges remain in addressing the issue of climate change, technological advances have raised hopes for the development of a sustainable future in energy production, energy infrastructure, removal and reduction of emissions, and environmental manipulation/reforestation and the effects of climate change. The use of artificial intelligence, satellites and drones to monitor the effects of climate change is revealing data and new discoveries that would otherwise remain unknown. New types of urban design have gained attention as climate change forces humanity to rethink where and how we live. Examples include domed cities, floating and underground cities – all of which turn life as we know it upside down.

How to prepare: There are opportunities and threats. It sometimes takes decades to adopt greener processes; by then, companies should consider whether there are developments in their industry that would benefit from products that address transients. How can your company rethink energy, either as a possible additional product or an alternative form of production? In addition, act in accordance with social justice, in local production and supply chain and foresee regulations. Threats include cyber security; unexpected effects (are you aware of the secondary and tertiary impacts on your business of changes in consumer behavior and the evolving regulatory environment?); lack of skilled labor; climatic migrations; end of greenwashing (is your company ready for complete transparency?).


Mobility, robotics and drones will reduce human involvement in certain everyday activities and leave people free to do more strategic and creative work. Once these markets mature, they face three main areas of transformation: electrification – mobility is moving significantly towards battery-powered vehicles, while robotics and drones remain committed to an electric future; automation – mobility sees growth in automated security features, while the capabilities and use of drones and robots to automate tasks and jobs continues to increase; autonomy – the three markets seek to give more autonomy to their machines, allowing them to become more efficient. More autonomous operations would help all three markets in their quest to solve last-mile delivery problems.

How to prepare: Most companies must prepare to capture and operationalize data from vehicles, robots and drones; find opportunities to enable automation in your operations; know how automation will significantly impact insurance; understand how mobile spaces are and how they can be used differently; learn the impact of electrification.


Virtual environments, AI and new ways of consuming information are forcing news and information business models to transform. Generative AI applications such as those from OpenA and DALL-E 2 imager — have become popular. This new class of tools is actively rewriting workflows and creating new norms for media consumption. Search engines and the way they answer questions are undergoing a revolution. These innovations will radically change the way consumers discover new content – ​​and the way publishers build relationships with their audiences. Trust in the press is at an all-time low worldwide, leaving news organizations vulnerable to reputational crises, which can result from human error or a coordinated attack by malicious actors. Journalists increasingly need technical expertise to track stories, protect themselves from cyberattacks and monetize their work. Demand for these skills can be met through training, building external partnerships, or breaking down silos within organizations.

How to prepare: In 2023, managers will be faced with the challenge of increasing market share and revenue. Subscription programs will face economic problems and market saturation; the development of search interfaces will change the way consumers discover new content; device manufacturers like Apple and Google can offer bundled content, damaging publishers’ relationships with their audiences; innovations related to the creation, distribution and monetization of information take place in various non-media domains; trust in institutions – and especially in the media – is at its lowest level. And without trust, consumers cannot be converted into subscribers. Organizations that want to play an active role in shaping the future of news must monitor new opportunities.


Experiences are moving towards a collaborative model, opening up the opportunity for iterative, but non-repetitive, engagement with entertainment franchises. In streaming, power is shifting from content platforms to influencers, as influencers’ opportunities to share content increase and new opportunities to create revenue streams expand; in art, the market for NFTs has cooled. Uses in the visual arts ecosystem are still undefined, but their relevance could expand in gaming, as digital tokens can be used to grant memberships or unlock experiences. Intellectual property rights are not sufficiently prepared to respond to new forms of entertainment or the globalization of content. Performing arts spaces are being transformed into multi-purpose arenas that not only accommodate different audience sizes and performance needs, but also shops, food and beverage outlets, and museums. And in amusement parks, virtual reality rides are transformed from passive and isolated experiences to interactive and social ones, where guests can move freely through the space.

How to prepare: Among the risks here are growing cyber risks, digital abundance (which can devalue what entertainment considers unique); mediocre storytelling; a new value proposition (ie, how humanity will respond to AI-generated content). Among the possibilities are the possibility of global storytelling (using talent from different geographies brings the opportunity for nuanced, local narratives, which deepen access and understanding of different cultures, demographics and marginalized communities, creating experiences that can be shared); define new roles and responsibilities (with the development of artificial intelligence, it is necessary to develop new skills for directors, producers, designers and artists); and deconstructed narratives create new sources of income (because they unlock collaborative repetition between the audience and the creator of the idea).

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