SXSW 2017 – Saturday 11th March

Probably the best day with small, knowledgeable panels in the morning; a very good 101 on AI and ending wiht Tim Ferris LIVE!

11-12 – B2A marketing: selling to a new AI consumer 

  • Pooja Badlani L2 Inc, Rank & Style
  • Robert Swartz, VP Strategy IBM
  • Ian Strain-Seymour, Reatio practice lead BazaarVoice
  • Moderator: Cory Clarke

SXSW2017-selling to a new AI consumer

Today, online retailer is switching paper toilet from the ordered brand to another one mostly because stock is not available. The smart move would be to do it based on margins.

Tomorrow what if the retailer bot does that choice of substitution? Will I care? Will my trust be broken?? Brands are based on trust. People will always have feelings and preferences for certain brands (e.g. Warmth of experience, glass of champagne, human touch at Tiffanys or hair dresser) but not for commodities e.g.  Toilet paper.

What moment of truth matter the most for your brand? Then double down on this. E.g. Tesla has picked their moment of truth

Looking at commoditised industries like hospitaliy, despite disintermediation we see some strong brands mostly due to loyalty schemes. Today’s small margin industries like CPG are ripe for disruption. Is CRM dead? Google / SEO means that brands are paying again for existing customers. What does it mean to have a customer in the bot age?

12:30-13:30 – Staying Human in the Age of Digital Reporting

  • David Philipps – New York Times


Fan of old school narrative storytelling and digital platform. Data driven journalism to find out new things is buzzy in journalism. What about lack of data?? 2 stories:

  • Veterans from WW2 cleaning up a B52 that crashed in Spain with plutonium in 1966. Without protection. They would have never found each other without Facebook. 50 years later they find out they have the same kidney cancer. The wife of the victim called David at NYT. Officials at the time asked to not turn the collector on; so data shows that no one was armed. 3/4 of the results showed high number of plutonium. ‘The numbers were too high to be believable so we took into account the remaining 25%. It was a research opportunity to follow this group of young men.’ The Minister of defense killed the programme after the 1st meeting. David met the 90 year old guy who gathered data. This first hand data shows how the government lied.
    • There’s no official data even to know what happened to people in Spain.
  • A veteran battalions’ suicide rate, at 13 men out of 500, is huge. It’s 15 times higher than the same civilian population. The Pentagon or VA could not find the correlation out of programs worth millions: the official line was that suicide is higher for old men and reality is that veterans are mostly old men. Through their Facebook group, the battalion is notified when one of them dies. The group setup a Google spreadsheet with address & phone numbers so that if one calls another one far away, someone close can visit the depressive guy. This peer support system saved lives. Veterans go back to so different places back home that without social media they would talk to 4 people max (e.g. post Vietnam) compared to 400 now with Facebook. 

David is tapping into invisible communities, going beyond the “there’s no data or bad data”. 

14-15 – Intelligent machines will eat their young… and us too

  • Adam Porter-Price
  • Emma Kinnucan
  • JD Dulny

From Booz Allen Hamilton

Machine learning is still narrow e.g. Recognise a cat photo (0 or 1) or Google translate based on all European parliament translations of official document (pattern recognition).

Getting to Artificial super intelligence, AI for emotional intelligence – predicted for 2045 – will depend on neuro research, understanding human sentience. A lot from tech side will also need to be solved given that machine learning today is mostly a table where a cat might be recognised as a green pixel next to a blue pixel and if a pattern is not recognised then it will look for it.

Referring to Nick Bostrom, AI goals are different from our human goals.

Challenge #1: Human context e.g. How we want a task to be completed, not only the outcome of the task (fastest route… but also not die on the way!)

SXSW2017-Intelligent machines will eat their young-and us too3

Can’t we just unplug it / turn it off??

SXSW2017-Intelligent machines will eat their young-and us too4

Hey can’t turn a hospital AI off or which country would turn it off first.

SXSW2017-Intelligent machines will eat their young-and us too5

How do we do this?

  1. More delicate AI if we get the AI to learn with humans (like teaching with praises or reprimands)
  2. Machine only learns in supervised environment. Think about a psychologist AI. Smart unsupervised learning. Check iteratively, kill a branch before going to next one
  3. Physical bounded exploration, simulated environment to mimick reality

15:30-16:30 – Is authenticity in advertising possible? 

  • Graham Harris
  • Ja Rule
  • Jennifer Dalipi
  • Richard Guest

SXSW2017-IsAuthencityPossibleInAdvertisingInteresting topic but didn’t stay as it was impossible to hear anything in the bar (people were more interested in the drinks and chatting – loudly – to their neighbors rather than listening to the discussion).

Jennifer mentioned that a brand following through on its promise: if I have a product does it do what I say it does? Or is it about influencers? At the end of the day it is the same but it’s interesting that we separate them.

Ja said that advertising is a necessity to hear about a new brand/product. Authenticity is different. Advertising used to be pushed to us, we now live in a pull world where I seek information which defeats the purpose of advertising.

Richard talked about authenticity being true to the brand and to the context in which consumers experience the brand.

On measurement with digital, Jenifer pointed out that data point is not insight, insight is needed to make decision on fragmented journey and to make decisions to move units. Focus on context rather than sentiment.

16-16:30 – Healthy, Wealthy, Wise: the Transformational Consumer 

  • Tara-Nichole Nelson

The love that a Transformational Consumer has for a brand is directly proportional to the degree of change the brand helps them make.

Rethink marketing to how much transformation your brand provides. Rethink competition as obstacles in customers experience towards their transformation, not other brands or products.

17-18 – The Tim Ferris LIVE show with Cheryl Strayed


Write like a motherfucker! Comes from having a motherfuckerattitude: humility and faith in your strength.  

Cheryl’s routine is not about daily practice. She’s a binge writer and removes the guilt of not writing when she can’t by saying when she will not be writing (maybe for 2 days or 2 months). Now that she has kids, she goes away in a hotel for focus and silence. She goes on walks and writes, barely eats or sleeps as she knows her time is limited. You create an alternate reality for the reader. Tim Ferris is also a binge writer. The motto of writing everyday doesn’t work for them.

Cheryl reinforced the importance of talking about binge writing as shame and guilt is big for so many writers.

She cried everyday writing Wild. But it was good for her said Cheryl.

When stuck with writing, Cheryl remembers that she struggles with beginnings (first sentence, or first paragraph) so she starts with a piece that might be 2/3 in the book. Once she writes, she relaxes and it flows. She can always go back to the beginning. Trust the non linear process, it also helps the narrative as chronology doesn’t have to be linear.

Cheryl is a queen list. She even has sub-list. A fear on the No column might be addressed in a sub-list. A list helps visualise what we want, what we fear, what we desire in life. It’s not about the number of things in each column but how you weight it. At the end of the day, it’s always about what you want in life. The biggest struggle in life is / give yourself permission to allow us to do what we want to do. This might seem selfish but back to the point on humility & strength.

Journey to say no: Tim realised that he says no to things he’s not good at moderating (otherwise saying yes to 1 thing leads to opening the flood). Unless it’s related to what he wants in life. Advice giving and taking is about illumination.

Favorite author: Alice Monroe, virtuose of prose and short stories.

Embracing failure doesn’t mean being sloppy. Cheryl believes in craft. Show your work when it’s ready, or don’t move to LA or NYC as a standup comedian before being good on smaller stages.