South by Southwest Interactive, Day One

IBM’s Chef Watson bar at SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas. All cocktails were designed by artificial intelligence but still mixed by actual humans (for now). South by Southwest (SXSW) started in 1987 as a music festival and conference, but has evolved into a brand, a happening, and an event that takes over Austin, Texas, for the better part of two weeks every March. Its multiple independent-but-overlapping conferences are organized around a variety of themes: education (SXSWedu), interactive (SXSWi), music (SXSWmusic), and film (SXSWFilm). One of my first stops at SXSWi was the IBM Cognitive Studio, the showcase for its artificial intelligence (AI), sometimes called machine learning. One of the most famous examples of AI is IBM’s Watson, and the company had a lot of fun showing it off at SXSWi. IBM’s…

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