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The magic starts to happen. Thousands upon thousands enthusiast, savvy and curious people from all over the world converged in Austin, Texas today for a week centered around technology, humanity, the future, wellbeing, and the various tends that will impact and shape our society over the coming year.

Countless keynotes, seminars, interviews and masterclasses took over the whole city. For the next six days, SXSW will be this gargantuan melting pot that mashes ideas into coherent streams, into identifiable tendances.

The congress started off with a real power lady.  Priyanka Chopra Jonas was born in 1982, in India. She was raised in a family of doctors and completed her high school education in the United States, where she was crowned Miss World in 2000. After winning the beauty pageant, Chopra turned to acting and made her debut in the Tamil film “Thamizhan” in 2002. She went on to star in numerous Hindi films and received critical acclaim for her performances.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas SXSW DANNY DEVRIENDT

Creative do-it all

In addition to acting, Chopra has pursued a career in music, releasing several singles and collaborating with artists like Pitbull and will.i.am. She has also produced several films, including the National Award-winning Marathi film “Ventilator”. In 2015, Chopra made her debut in American television with the series “Quantico”A  and subsequently appeared in several Hollywood films.

Chopra is also known for her philanthropic work. She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has worked to promote children’s education and gender equality. In 2016, she launched The Priyanka Chopra Foundation for Health and Education, which supports various initiatives in India and around the world. She has also been a vocal advocate for the #MeToo movement in India and has spoken out against gender-based violence.

Throughout her career, Chopra has won numerous awards for her acting, including a National Film Award for Best Actress, five Filmfare Awards, and a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Actress in a New TV Series for “Quantico”.

We’re not there yet

Her curriculum is impressive, and like her presence on the stage, honestly overwhelming. Chopra is soft spoken, extremely intelligent, and get’s her ideas across in a very structured way. And the verdict is not all pretty. Bias in the workplace also hits powerful women, like Chopra (In 2016, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world.)

The “Citadel” actress told Amazon Studios content head Jennifer Salke at SXSW that mean and consistent attacks on her and her family often leave her in tears. She gets attacked on her femineity, her origin, her race, her boobs, her looks, her age. She was told she was too big to fit in a “sample size” during a fitting earlier this week, with studio bro’s telling her often she’s end of career, as she gets in her forties

I’ve been told many things that are difficult to hear,” she said: “and many women are wounded by the same age-old biases. If we do not move, the workplace stays very much a man’s game. It’s up to us, women with power to reach out, and help others up. As a women in command,  pressure is so intense you can’t really show the chinks in your armor. Someone told me yesterday that I wasn’t sample-sized. … I was hurt, I cried to my husband. Why would it matter for her, or any other woman or man that they do not fit a size 2? People in command and with power have forgotten that you are human.”

We still get judged by the male gaze and the beauty standards that have been created by patriarchal norms. That’s hard, even today. Even with a lot of men who are trying to do really well, we’re not there yet. Especially not on a global scale in the workplace”, she said.  She surrounds herself with people who “love” and “care” for her. 

I’ve been working in the entertainment industry for now 22 years, and I have done almost 70-plus features and two TV shows. It is only now, by doing  Citadel, and for the first time in my career that I had pay parity. I get paisas much as the male lead. For the same work. It’s kind of nuts, but is still reality. Up to everybody who can, to do what he/she can. That’s how the world get’s better.”

Generative AI

Chopra’s words left a message of anger, determination and hope. A quest to do better, by all means necessary.

Greg Brockman SXSW Danny Devriendt

Greg Brockman,  OpenAI president and cofounder, had exactly the same message. We’re not going to solve tomorrow’s problems with yesterday’s technology. We need to do better, by all means. And even if people are afraid, or uncomprehensive of generative AI, he is convinced it holds a key for a better, more robust, more solid, more resilient and augmented humanity.

Brockman, in a very open and sincere style acknowledged that OpenAI’s core chatbot ChatGPT-3 has generated both hype and criticism since its debut four months ago. It has lovers, and haters., and that polarization is difficult to handle for the team of Open.ai

Drudge work

ChatGPT-3 been praised for its potential to help with the “drudge work” of writing and coding, of finding solutions, of organizing thoughts and intelligence as well as provide a more interactive entertainment experience. However, it has also faced fierce and violent criticism for its potential to replace human workers in creative and administrative fields, in content creation, and in communication. It can help incite a quick and deep spread of misinformation. Some have even accused it of having a liberal political bias against certain sources of information.

ChatGPT is still a kid

Greg Brockman acknowledged that the company had made an early mistake (“slow in the uptake”) in building safeguards to prevent responses that could be deemed inflammatory, but says the system is still learning, and gets constantly corrected. “It is still learning, evolving, finding its’ way”.  Old cofounder Elon Musk recently announced his plans to build an “anti-woke” rival to ChatGPT. Things can become interesting.

Force for Good

Despite these controversies, Brockman remains convinced that AI will ultimately be a force for good and enable humans to focus on higher-level skills and tasks, that it will free time and energy away from mundane tasks, to concentrate and focus on more important matters .

As the systems are still young, thinking about safety and mitigate overreliance on these systems when they are not yet perfect is needed, as is reflection on ethics and regulation.

Dodging the question when AI is going to be sentient, Brockman is convinced individuals, schools, students, organizations and companies will find specific use cases that can provide solutions, contrarian thinking,  alternatives, value, and calculable ROI when implementing AI. “It is not perfect yet, but the impact on our future is real. Up to us to make it a positive one. We’ll get better, sooner.”

The sooner, the better….

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