Tag - tech

Discussion of “Termination Shock”

The Austin Forum's July discussion event will bring us back to the discussion of a science fiction book with very real-world implications: Neal Stephenson's new climate thriller, "Termination Shock." Join us at Austin Forum advisory board member, and elite sci-fi geek, Julie Tomlin returns to moderate a thoughtful discussion of the implications of a book about how climate action could pit individuals versus governments, as well as governments versus each other. (This discussion will not weigh in on real-world political matters, only on climate chance science, and science-fiction, and the implications for technology companies and policies.)

The Future of Money & Finance Is Arriving Faster Than You Think

Bitcoin awareness is now pervasive, and most of us have now heard of other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Dogecoin, etc, but cryptocurrencies have often seemed like a technology fad to those not actively engaged in the space. However, that perception is changing rapidly as cryptocurrencies are increasingly accepted for more and more everyday transactions and have become a valid component in investment portfolios. What’s more, blockchain-powered smart contract technology now enables new paradigms and products ranging from NFTs (non-fungible tokens) to DeFi (decentralized finance) systems that may forever change finance and transactions. What are cryptocurrencies? How are they being used now—and...

Discussion of “This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends”

Cyberweapons add a new dimension to human conflict, and thus have implications for the development--and application--of new types of weapons and the modern conduct of warfare. The 2021 book "This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race," by Nicole Perlroth, is a NY Times Bestseller that is non-fiction journalism but reads like a modern-day spy thriller--with insights and perspectives that are illuminating, possibly terrifying, and worthy of discussion (particularly in light of the Ukraine invasion). Join us for an online discussion of this prize-winning book and its implications, led by SXSW Chief Programming Officer,...

A Discussion of the Book “Exponential: How the Next Digital Revolution Will Rewire Life on Earth”

Digital technology is now ubiquitous and pervasive in our lives and society, with largely positive impacts on how we live, work, learn, and play. Of course, there are some dangers, risks and concerns as well, but as with any tool we can use combinations of responsible design, education, personal behavior, and policies to mitigate these while maximizing benefit. Perhaps the real question is: how are these technologies changing life and society, at all scales? That is the topic of this fascinating book by Azheem Azhar, and this will be the focus of this inaugural non-fiction online book discussion group led...

An AI Discussion on Fairness, Responsibility, Bias, and Other Ethical Issues

AI is changing the world we live, work, learn, and play in, permeating our lives and jobs and our devices and places, and enabling innovations and discoveries in research and industry. However, this huge adoption of AI—both for support of human decisions and for completely autonomous decisions—in all aspects of society presents real risks as well as transformative potential. In placing our human trust in such powerful learning and decision-making systems, there is much to consider to ensure fairness. AI itself isn’t fair or unfair, but as the human developers, implementors, and beneficiaries, we must understand how to promote fairness...

AI in 2022: A Look at the Power, Potential, and Perils

In this talk, Steve will give an introduction to AI for non-practitioners and then highlight current use cases in computer vision, natural language processing, time series forecasting, anomaly detection, reinforcement learning, and recommender systems where AI-based systems are already performing well or offer significant promise to do so in the near future. Some key examples include drug discovery, robotics, language understanding, climate change mitigation, supply chain optimization, and pandemic modeling. ​ He will also discuss the significant risks of AI systems related to bias, fairness, privacy, fraud, cybersecurity, and misinformation/disinformation and then the current efforts in algorithmic accountability and AI ethics...

Exploring Tech & Society Through Sci-Fi: Austin Forum Sci-Fi Book Club

For our monthly online discussion group in March, we will kick off the Austin Forum Sci-Fi book club with Neil Stephenson’s “Snow Crash,” a novel that inspired many of the ideas and terms we use in technology today! While “Snow Crash” isn’t a new novel—it was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1994—the ideas and lessons about technology influence remain relevant today. Our book club focus is on how technology’s influence on society is imagined by creative writers who are extrapolating into possible futures or alternate outcomes—and what this can inform (warn?) us about how we’re allowing technology...

Cybersecurity in 2022: Growing Threats, And What You Can Do

Every company, government agency, and individual depends increasingly on the computers, computing devices like smartphones, and the networks that connect them, presenting opportunities for cybercriminals. As Covid pandemic measures have pushed people and businesses increasingly online and remote, attackers have pivoted as well, exploiting weaknesses in these technologies. Always a present threat, today's exploits are now automated, pushing us to automate our defense as well. Many threats--even if larger in scale--remain the same. Phishing, credential re-use, known vulnerable components, the traditional attacks continue to provide criminals with a steady stream of access to private networks and personal data. It seems...

SXSW is Back, With New, Exciting & Important Programming for 2022

SXSW 2022 is finally coming back in-person (and online), after two years of absence (2020) and online-only (2021)—and oh, how the work, culture, entertainment, society, and conferences have changed! SXSW Chief Programming Officer and longtime Austin Forum support, Hugh Forrest, talks with Austin Forum Executive Director, Jay Boisseau, about how SXSW 2022 will be different, and better, in the new normal, while continuing to address the evolving and emerging themes that influence and shape how we work, learn, play, live, and more! Then, Hugh will take questions from our online attendees and discuss with them the choices and reasons for...

Tech Trends for 2022 (and Beyond!)

Technologies are ubiquitous in our lives: embedded in our homes, offices, and vehicles, and in our schools, healthcare, entertainment, and most other places we go. And yet, while technologies have become pervasive, there is no constancy: technology capabilities grow exponentially, entirely new technology products emerge rapidly, and the rate of digital transformation in our lives, companies, government, schools, and more is accelerating. Now, as we enter 2022, technologies like cloud computing, smartphones, and social media are central to our lives; AI and 5G are maturing and applications are increasing that will change our products, services, environments, and infrastructure; edge computing...