Harry Taylor’s SXSW Sydney Diary Day 4

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Harry Taylor’s SXSW Sydney Diary Day 4

Harry Taylor, digital and experience director at True is visiting Sydney for SXSW, with some highlights from day 4, exclusively for Campaign Brief.


Frisson: Why Music Gives You Chills

The first panel of the day was moderated by Sonos, with Composer Erik Dubowsky and a group of music psychologists asking if they could harness that goosebumps, hairs-standing-up-on-your-neck feeling we sometimes get when we listen to certain songs.

Turns out it’s a psychophysiological response experienced by many people called the Frisson Trigger, and has shown up across music’s history in certain tracks but has never been formally packaged and created intentionally.

Grammy award-winning Erik, who has produced albums for Odesza, Flume and many others talked through how he gave exactly that a go – researching and composing a track that throws in every recorded instance and trick to achieve this “aesthetic chills’ phenomenon, using musical markers, tempo changes and our brain’s love of surprise to try engineer this unique psychophysiological response.

You can give the track a listen here

What is Intimacy without humanity?

I must admit, I didn’t really know what sex-tech was, but Bryony Cole’s session was a highlight. She’s a researcher studying the intersection of the real and AI world and a future where tech permeates every corner of our lives, even the most intimate ones.

As well as designing this tech with humans shaping what it should be, she talked about the future of AI companions and where things are heading. You can already date a virtual partner and use apps like Blush – a Tinder with AI-generated humans, where right swipes are guaranteed and you can match, chat and exchange selfies.

She painted a future where our virtual companions could develop and meet higher emotional needs for some, the good, the bad and the dangers of monetising virtual empathy without retaining a human lens.

She also threw a bunch of sex toys into the crowd as prizes when someone answered a question right so that was entertaining.

Harry Taylor’s SXSW Sydney Diary Day 4

So much space

I was very happy with the amount of space stuff SXSW had going on – some sessions led by NASA and the relatively new Australian space agency, as well as some interesting startups.

First up was Jim Free – the man responsible for the upcoming crewed Artemis mission to the moon. He talked about the challenge of lunar dust (it’s like shredded glass for astronauts apparently), putting more water into lunar food to achieve 98% water efficiency and NASA exploring living in moon caves long term to escape the weather and radiation.

There were also a bunch of space start-ups pitching as part of a venture program with sessions moderated and judged by tech leaders. Check out Metakosmos – who want to make the types of space suits you see in movies available for all to buy, and Space Machines Co imagining orbitside assistance to service commercial satellites.