Our picks.

When we're not speaking, here are the sessions
we think are worth making time for this year.

Friday, March 10

Wireless Network Innovation: Smart City Foundation

11:00AM — 12:00PM / JW Marriott, Salon 7

We love talking about the potential of connected cities just as much as the next crew, but there’s nothing quite like seeing real results. Join Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed as he teams up with Verizon, Intel, and US Ignite to explore Atlanta’s vision for becoming a smart city. Even better, see what they’ve done so far.

Humans, Machines & the Future of Industrial Design

12:30PM — 1:30PM / Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon K

With AI being used in everything from taxes to wildlife preservation, it’s only natural to consider how the work of a designer will change when traditional tools become intelligent. MIT Media Lab’s Pip Mothersill and IDEO’s Jason Robinson will discuss what designers need to do to prepare for a future where traditional tools and software not only help designers, they become creative partners.

Get a Warrant: The 4th Amendment and Digital Data

3:30PM — 4:30PM / Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon H

The vague laws created to ensure a citizen’s right to privacy were written long before anyone had to worry about cellphone data, email, or even license plate numbers. In this panel, the ACLU teams up with lawyers from the R Street Institute and Demand Progress to look at the work of the Fourth Amendment Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers crafting laws that make digital privacy a priority.

Harnessing Today’s Innovation Culture for Uncle Sam

3:30PM — 4:30PM / Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon C

In order to make the same sort of technological progress we’ve seen from startups, the Department of Defense is working to get rid of the outdated processes that slow down government work and partnerships in areas like AI, VR, and space travel. Vishaal Hariprasad, a partner at the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), along with reps from Shield AI, Brunswick Group, and Moonshot Capital, will share success stories and explain how it’s becoming easier for startups to contribute to our national defense.

The Real Future of Self-Driving Cars

5:00PM — 6:00PM / JW Marriott, Salon 8

A startup you've probably never heard of claims to be the future of driverless cars. We want to know what they're selling.


Plus, don’t miss our very own Sophie Kleber discuss how to design emotionally intelligent machines. In the afternoon, join Sophia Yeres as she explains the built-in risks of building intelligent assistants.

Saturday, March 11

AI on the Horizon: Challenges, Directions, Futures

9:30AM — 10:30AM / JW Marriott, Salon 7

Runaway AI. Biased algorithms. Automation failure. These are among the tough topics that Microsoft’s Eric Horvitz will wrestle with in his solo talk on the future of AI.

Text2Vote: Simple Policy Changes for Major Impact

11:00AM — 12:00PM / Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon H

We look for love online. We buy booze online. We donate money online. But we can’t vote online. A look at the policy, privacy, and security concerns about online voting.

IBM Watson: Enhancing Human Expertise

12:30PM — 1:30PM / JW Marriott, Salon E

IBM Watson CTO Rob High will break down just how exactly Watson does the amazing things that it does.

Reducing Violent Police-Citizen Interactions

12:30PM — 1:30PM / JW Marriott, Room 203-204

Urban Institute scholars will moderate a panel that brings together community activists from Black Lives Matter Austin and law enforcement to explore violence-reduction strategies and pressing topics like body cameras.

Sunday, March 12

Social Video and the Future of Consumption

11:00AM — 12:00PM / Hyatt Regency Austin, Texas Ballroom 1-3

If you make—or watch—videos on the Internet, this is one not to miss. In the last year, news-consumption habits (and consequently, newsrooms and media companies) have been totally upended by Facebook and its users’ endless appetite for video. Video journalists from Vox, Vice, and the New York Times will discuss how their craft is quickly evolving in this social media-driven world.

Content Distribution Platforms: Friends or Foes?

12:30PM — 1:30PM / Hyatt Regency Austin, Texas Ballroom 1-3

There has been no shortage of lackluster business models built by platforms like Facebook and Snapchat that have promised to benefit traditional publishers looking to drive readership back to their websites. Join The Economist’s Denise Law, Conde Nast’s Olivia Ralston, Steve Oh of The Young Turks and Jeanmarie Condon of ABC News as they share their ideas for how to strike a balance between building a presence on third-party platforms while still growing their own.

Humans and Robots in a Free-for-All Discussion

3:30PM — 4:30PM / JW Marriott, Salon 5-6

Hiroshi Ishiguro, the roboticist who made a lifelike bot-version of himself, and NTT’s Ryuichiro Higashinaka will bring two of their creations on stage to demonstrate just how freakily good machines now are at holding conversations.

So You Want to Go to Mars?

5:00PM — 6:00PM / JW Marriott, Salon 8

Like The Martian, but with actual rocket science. Astronaut Jessica Meir and NASA Orion Systems Engineer Jessica Vos join space architect Tim Cichan and systems engineer Brian Hinde from Lockheed Martin to tell us just how exactly you sustain human life in the vacuum of space.

Humanitarian Design in Action

11:00AM — 2:00PM / Westin Austin Downtown, Continental 2

Do something good: Join Google.org’s Oliver Blank, Facebook designer Earl Carlson, humanist designer Nadav Savio, and Crack + Cider CEO Charlotte Cramer for a workshop where participants will rapidly design responses to real-world crises.

Can Amy Schumer & Univision Reduce Gun Violence

2:00PM — 3:00PM / Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB

Entertainers, media companies, and activists are joining forces to help address the critical issue of gun violence. Leaders from Everytown for Gun Safety, Inside Amy Schumer, and Univision will reveal how they use storytelling to heighten awareness and create action around social issues.


Don’t miss Huge’s Managing Director of Technology, Gela Fridman, in conversation with Drupal co-founder and CTO Dries Buytaert, Joshua Brustein of Bloomberg, and Chris Messina about conversational computing’s potential for creating a more accessible internet. And if you’d rather build your own conversational interface, sign up for a workshop led by Austin Beer, Dylan Spencer and Matt Ryan.

Monday, March 13

Think Outside the Trash Can: Fight Food Waste Now

11:00AM — 12:00PM / The Driskill Ballroom

Americans toss nearly a third of our food supply, and yet there are 49 million food-insecure people in the U.S. Come learn how we can reduce food waste and make sure every kid has a full belly. Innit’s Sam Kass, former White House chef and executive director of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, joins the Good Housekeeping Institute, connected fridge-maker Whirlpool, and the Natural Resources Defense Council to cook up some solutions.

Good is the New Cool: Market Like You Give a Damn

5:00PM — 5:30PM / Austin Convention Center Room 10AB

Millennials and Gen Z don’t trust your brand. Afdhel Aziz and Bobby Jones, co-authors of Good Is the New Cool, will share seven key principles to gleaned from culture-makers like Scooter Braun and Lady Gaga manager Bobby Campbell and companies like Zappos, The Honest Company, and Citibank, to help marketers navigate the new reality of (actually) being good.

90-Minute Film School

3:30PM — 4:30PM / Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB

Your pipe dreams of film school are not dead yet. Short of the Week’s Andrew Allen, along with industry experts from Netflix, Pixar, StudioCanal, and Emerson College, will walk attendees step by step through the process of making, pitching, distributing, and promoting a film.

Female Investors Talk Investing in Women

12:30 PM — 1:30 PM / Hilton Austin Downtown Room 400-402

Prominent VCs Susan Lyne, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, and Theresia Gaow are going to school us in what female investors know that male investors don’t, and tell us what they look for in companies they’re considering funding.

Ray and Amy Kurzweil on Collaboration and the Future

12:30PM — 1:30PM / Austin Convention Center Ballroom D

Futurist, author, and legit genius Ray Kurzweil is taking the stage with his daughter, cartoonist Amy Kurzweil, promising a wide-ranging discussion of creative collaboration and the future of storytelling, the arts, and technology. You’ll want a front-row seat.

Tuesday, March 14

From One Robot to Many

9:30AM — 10:30AM / JW Marriott, Salon C

The maker of Cozmo the robot talks with Github’s Katrina Owen about why they chose to make their robot open-source and how that decision could shape the industry.

Speak Up! Build an Alexa Skill for a Cause

9:30AM — 12:30PM / Westin Austin Downtown, Moody Room (RSVP required)

Get your hands dirty learning how to build an Alexa Skill. Curious non-programmers are welcome in this entry-level workshop.

How an Emoji Becomes an Emoji: The Unicode Process

11:00AM — 12:00PM / Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D

You know all about the dumpling emoji and the poop emoji, but do you know how they go from conception to keyboard? Members of the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee will shed light on the emoji lifecycle and the rigorous process emojis go through before we can tap and text them to friends.

Can a Film Made by a Machine Move You?

11:00AM — 12:00PM / Austin Convention Center, Room 6AB

These panelists (including an American Horror Story director) put together a number of AI technologies to create a film conceived, directed, and edited by machine. But will it make you cry? Only one way to find out…

Beyond Driverless Cars: Our Transportation Future

3:30PM — 4:30PM / JW Marriott, Salon 7

Paradise is paved with parking lots; can new transportation technologies help us put cars to better use and reduce cost and pollution? In this panel, Allstate’s Don Civgin and UT professor and director of the Center for Transportation Research Chandra Bhat will tell us where the transportation revolution is moving next.

Is Big Data Destroying the U.S. Political System?

5:00PM — 6:00PM / Hyatt Regency Austin Texas Ballroom 5-7

Yes, suggests NBC News political director Chuck Todd of “Meet the Press,” who’ll take a full hour to explain why.

Wednesday, March 15

Are We Alone? A Discussion on Space Exploration

11:00AM — 12:00PM / Austin Convention Center, JW Marriott, Salon 6

Renowned astrophysicists tell us what they really think about aliens. ‘Nuff said.

Brazilian VR: Creativity to Hit Millions of Views

3:30PM — 4:30PM / JW Marriott, Salon 3-4

O2 Films, Brazil’s largest production company, brought us Google’s Beyond the Map, a project that helped people what it’s like to live in a favela in Rio de Janeiro. O2’s Fernando Meirelles, creator of City of God, and Ricardo Laganaro, discuss how they hacked together their own equipment and software to build a powerhouse VR shop.

What to Do With Gender Norms & Entertainment Media

11:00AM — 12:00PM / JW Marriott, Room 201-202

It’s the Bechdel Test 2.0: Using research from Common Sense Media, panelists from Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls and the Center for Digital Media Innovation and Diversity will explore what sort of messages our children are getting from the entertainment industry about gender—and talk about a groundbreaking tool that helps parents scope out positive entertainment options for their kids.

Designing Community Spaces

2:00PM — 3:00PM / 2:00PM-3:00PM / JW Marriott, Room 201-202

Tim League of Alamo Drafthouse joins some of Austin’s most innovative dreamers and doers to talk about thoughtfully building third places that foster public good, social impact, and civic engagement.

Thursday, March 16

The Future of Intelligent Living

11:00AM — 12:00PM / JW Marriott, Salon 7

Talk to your walls! Smart-home innovators from Amazon, Sonos, and Samsung reveal how we’ll be interacting with our connected in-home devices next.

AI: Actually Still Terrible

11:00AM — 12:00PM / JW Marriott, Salon 6

If you’re tired of all the tech rah-rah, turn out for AI skeptics Kate Darling of MIT Media Lab and NIlesh Ashra of Wieden + Kennedy, who promise to pan pointless AI “innovations” and calm fears about the robots taking over.

How Will Trump Steer Car and Transportation Tech?

12:30PM — 1:30PM / JW Marriott, Salon AB

Can self-driving cars (or the environment) withstand the current administration? Let’s debate.

Immigration and Innovation: The Future of H-1B

2:00PM — 3:00PM / JW Marriott, Salon C

Silicon Valley is #resisting President Trump’s promises to crack down on immigration. Daniel Costa of the Economic Policy Institute talks with Molly Wood of Marketplace on the potential fallout on the tech industry if Trump has his way.

The War at Home: Trump and the Mainstream Media

2:00PM — 3:00PM / JW Marriott, Salon AB

Dan Rather, founder of News and Guts Media, joins frequent Trump target Katy Tur, CNN’s Brian Stelter, and ABC’s Matthew Dowd to reveal how they are rethinking their approach in the Age of Trump.