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24th March 2023
SXSW 2023 Wrap: AI, Ethics and Fandom

After a fabulous five days in Austin, we’re back in London and eager to share what made this year’s SXSW festival one to remember. 

Attending the festival on behalf of Dimension, Yush Kalia and Lauren Dyer were present for over 40 different panels and keynotes. The pair spoke as part of three UK House sessions: 'The Future of Digital: Unpicking the Uncertainty', 'How Web3’s Transforming the Sports Industry' and ‘Storytelling in the Metaverse'. Yush discussed the latter on Advertising Week’s latest podcast episode: find full episode here or read the summary on our website.

From major brand panels and exhibitions, to key insights and hot topics, here is our retrospective of SXSW 2023.

Generative AI

Among the recurring topics discussed, none were more prevalent than generative AI. While we explored the opportunities presented by AI language and visual generation models, from ChatGPT to MoveAI and Midjourney, much discussion was held around the uncertainty and risks associated with the emerging tech. 

Founder of WIRED Magazine Kevin Kelly gave an incredible talk where he likened generative AI to a tool or service, like plumbing. Taken from an article he wrote a few months before SXSW, Kelly summarises his thoughts by stating that “Instead of fearing AI, we are better served thinking about what it teaches us”.

Tech futurist Amy Webb introduced a term relating to AI and machine learning: AISMOSIS (AI + OSMOSIS). She discussed how the internet as we know it is radically changed, with everything becoming augmented, and AI being a major factor in this change. This tallies with Dimension’s vision of a future 3D internet, with an immersive augmented or virtual layer in all of our online interactions.

"It was so great to see SXSW back to pre-pandemic levels, particularly the incredibly strong representation from the UK and Europe. I loved that almost every session considered sustainability and ethics of emerging technology and was really inspired by explorations of AI and its potential impacts, especially on human behaviour. Bring on SXSW 2024!"

Lauren Dyer | Director of Strategic Partnerships, Dimension


Another common thread among discussion panels was ethics. Specifically, how experiences need to embrace accessibility, diversity, and sustainability issues better both in their content and user experience. This was also seen in relation to digital humans in virtual worlds. We have a responsibility to consider what it means to be human, how we represent ourselves online, and how we’ll enable privacy and anonymity in the metaverse.  

"It’s a rare opportunity to have that many thought leaders in one place. SXSW is unrivalled for bringing the industry together, making authentic connections and forging partnerships that genuinely drive immersive technologies forward."

Yush Kalia | Sales & Marketing Director, Dimension

Fandom & community

With talk of metaverse and NFTs slightly more muted than last year, the power of a dedicated community came to the fore. Case studies at SXSW cemented what we already know - Web3 projects that give back to the fans in a meaningful way are set up for success. Those who allow their community to use new technologies to design and potentially sell their own products are leading the way - see .Swoosh and

Credit: @lushcosmetics

A Lush tech haven

Among the exhibitions and brand houses, a shared highlight for both Yush and Lauren was Lush House. The British cosmetics retailer had an immaculately designed space in the exposition centre, and held many self-reflective talks on innovation at the intersection of cosmetics, activism, and technology - including real-time avatars on screen. In Lush's  words: ‘exploring what it means to be anti-social and inventing an ethical digital future’.

"Lush House felt like a truly thought out experience. A pop up store to buy products, a dedicated program of talks and panels, a personalised bar demonstrating innovations in new products, a place to hold meetings during the day, and even a live events space in the evenings. A truly bespoke hybrid space." - Lauren Dyer | Director of Strategic Partnerships, Dimension

See you in 2024!

That wraps up our Business Development team's experience of SXSW 2023! Get in touch if you'd like to discuss these issues or find out more about any of our work.

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