Reflections on SXSW 2023: The Future of AI and Human-Centric Innovation

The 2023 edition of South by Southwest (SXSW) recently wrapped up, and as an innovation leader, I found the event brimming with insights that resonated with our approach here at Hellon.

SXSW 2023 was a celebration of technology, music, and arts and a platform for discussing the future of business and technology from a leadership perspective. In this blog post, I will discuss some key themes and insights that emerged from the event, focusing on the role of generative AI and the unique networking and inspiration opportunities SXSW provides for any business leader.

Theme 1: The Generative AI Revolution and the New Internet

One major takeaway from SXSW 2023 was the growing influence of generative AI on the internet. Experts like Amy Webb, CEO of Future Today Institute, predict that large language models will fundamentally change how we interact with the internet. Instead of relying on hyperlinks, text, and images, we will engage in more human-like conversations with AI systems. For example, many of us are already experiencing this first-hand by using Chat GPT-4.

This development heralds the era of assistive computing, which will enhance human capabilities and productivity through generative AI tools. As business leaders, we must adapt to these changes and consider how they affect our organizations and customers. At least what I have learned during the past months is that generalist leaders like myself will significantly increase their productivity and power of communication in the near future.

Theme 2: Data as the Great Differentiator

Cathie Wood from ARK Investment Management emphasized the importance of high-quality, domain-specific AI training data as a critical differentiator for companies in the AI era. Improved AI models lead to better products and services, attracting more customers.

As the cost of training AI models continues to drop; business leaders must prioritize investing in data acquisition and management to stay competitive in the rapidly-evolving AI landscape. This is something that many organizations still do not realize. It is fair to say that anyone has access to or can create an algorithm cost-efficiently in the future. Still, the ones who sit on top of their own unique data sets will have the power to differentiate and deliver unique solutions and capabilities to the market.

Theme 3: Networking and the inspirational power of Human Connection at SXSW

SXSW has long been known for its unique networking opportunities and relaxed atmosphere. The event's blend of technology and creative professionals, business leaders, and celebrities worldwide and its friendly, open environment makes it an ideal setting for forging new connections and partnerships. As a business leader, I found the event particularly valuable for expanding my professional network, identifying potential collaboration opportunities, and getting inspired and energized.

Conclusion: Let's embrace Change, Stay Human-Centric, and realize there is much hope.

SXSW 2023 demonstrated that even as technology continues to evolve and shape the business world, human-centric values and connections remain crucial for businesses to stay relevant. As business leaders, we must balance embracing innovation and preserving the human elements that define our organizations and remain our core ingredients of value creation.

An essential reflection from the event that encapsulates the essence of SXSW is the sheer diversity of experiences it offers. Attendees could begin their day with a touching documentary, then listen to experts like OpenAI CEO Greg Brockman discussing the future of AI, followed by talks from Gen Z activists or NASA astronauts sharing their groundbreaking work. SXSW is a multidisciplinary gathering of brilliant minds representing the cutting-edge of their industries.

In our Hellonian discussions and reflections, we found that the common thread connecting these diverse presentations and conversations was a sense of hope. The innovative ideas, discoveries, and initiatives shared at SXSW demonstrated the immense potential of human ingenuity to create a better world. This optimism is a powerful takeaway that we can bring back to our work and apply in our pursuit of human-centric solutions and sustainable new value creation.


Hellon Group CEO

Jaakko Wäänänen

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