The Forefront of Technology


Contributed by staffwriter Amanda Fraraccio

We rang in the new year continuing our focus on self-care and added a high-tech spin taking a look at smart watches.  This month we continue our technology thread and preview one of the most cutting-edge technologies in the world.  March brings with it the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference.  For those who are new to Austin or have never participated in SXSW other than by avoiding its traffic, it brings together tech-industry leaders, politicians and musicians, film screenings, tech presentations and concerts (Gajanan, 2017).     

Though the conference got its start in the late 80’s it was not until 1994 that the “Interactive” portion featuring the latest in technology was introduced and it was piggybacked with the film category.  The tech portion split into its own sessions the following year.  The first several years featured cutting edge tech panels such as “The Web Is Dead?” and “So You Want to Make a CD-Rom?”  Their official email address was, (Hoffberger, 2015). Yikes! I feel old I actually understand what that means! 

Flash forward about 20 years and the tech portion of SXSW celebrates the most forward-thinking developments in the connected world. This year there is a new tech award category “AI & Machine Learning.”  One of the finalists in this category is Unanimous AI and its Swarm AI® technology (MS News Now, 2018).  Swarm AI is described as “technology (that) combines real-time human input with artificial intelligence algorithms, optimizing the combined knowledge, wisdom, insights and intuition of the target population. Inspired by the biological process of Swarm Intelligence, the technology is modeled after the way birds flock, bees swarm, and fish school to amplify their intelligence and solve complex problems. While humans have not evolved this ability naturally, researchers at Unanimous AI have enabled it artificially, allowing groups of people to amplify their intelligence by forming real-time swarms online.” (MS News Now, 2018). 

For more information about this award and Unanimous AI click here: 

At SXSW, we have evolved from learning about CD-Roms to recognizing software programming that has accurately predicted the Kentucky Derby, TIME’s Person of the Year, the Academy Awards, and the President’s approval rating.  As fascinating as it is to be able to predict who will take home the next Oscar for best picture, AI technology has a much more humanitarian application as well and directly impacts those of us in the medical community.  Here are a couple examples of where AI is taking healthcare: 

  • Researchers at Phillips are looking to help in the fight against cancer, beginning with breast cancer, by reducing pathologists’ routine workload, improving diagnostic accuracy and precision, and reducing error rates using computational tools and deep learning algorithms which allow computers to analyze vast amounts of data and automatically detect patterns and make predictions (Phillips, 2017).  See the full fascinating article here:

  • AI can also put ultrasound technology on your phone essentially making your smartphone screen a window into your body. The Butterfly Network company currently has FDA clearance for 13 clinical applications, including obstetric exams, musculoskeletal checks, and cardiac scans (Molteni, 2017). Take a look here for more: 

Take a look at the SXSW site for full schedule of programming for this year's conference March 9th - 18th.

As we continue to follow the developments in AI, we invite you to think about innovation for the next 20 years. Will AI go the way of the CD-Rom? What SXSW featured innovation holds the key to the next 50 years? An exciting idea to ponder but I think the better question is with all this advanced technology why is there still so much traffic?! 




Gajanan, M. (2017, March 12). Retrieved from

Hoffberger, C. (2015, March 8). Retrieved from

Molteni, M. (2017, November 17). Retrieved from

MS News Now. (2018, February 12). Retrieved from

Phillips. (2017, March 29). Retrieved from