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SXSW CPO Talks Tech Future with Middle Schoolers

Jude Strelitz-Block '22
By Jude Strelitz-Block '22

Creativity is crucial - that was the message of Hugh Forrest, chief programming officer of SXSW. Forrest spoke to the St. Andrew’s Middle School students on the first day back from break during “Flex Time.”
The Austin Chamber of Commerce honored Forrest and other founders of SXSW as the 2012 Austinite(s) of the Year. Born and raised in Austin, Forrest majored in English at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio but returned to Austin in the ‘80s.

In his talk Forrest spoke about innovative minds and artificial intelligence.

“The music and gaming at SXSW may be important, but it is really about the culture. It uncovers things that will be big in the future,” said Forrest.

For example, in 2007 Twitter was big at SXSW Interactive then became huge worldwide.

Forrest says that artificial intelligence (A.I.) will be the next big thing in a few years and it will be more and more integrated into our everyday lives.

“We don’t know it, but A.I. is actually integrated into our everyday lives. Auto-correct is actually a form of A.I.”

He says that it will change the workforce. However, humans have something that A.I. doesn’t have: creativity.

Humans have a better capacity for creative thinking. “Creativity is why Austin is Austin. I like to think that ‘Keep Austin Weird’ means ‘Keep Austin Creative.’ ”

Forrest fielded several questions from students and awarded sixth-grader Khamirah Maxwell with two wristbands for the SXSW Gaming Festival for asking the best question. Maxwell's question centered around how Austin has impacted SXSW and how SXSW has affected Austin.

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Located in Austin, Texas, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private co-ed elementary, middle and high school for grades K-12. Students benefit from dedicated faculty, a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.