Movie stars, tech moguls and music artists are among those converging in Austin, Texas, as part of the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals.
Known by its shorthand SXSW, the event takes place every year in March and mixes music, film, comedy and digital entertainment as well as technology and politics.
The event in the Texas capital, once a low-key tech hub, has become an important nexus where the already successful mix with the aspiring. New movies premiere, music acts perform and tech startups pitch their wares. Twitter gained traction at SXSW in 2007, putting up flat-panel screens in the hallways.
This year, among the actors, musicians and tech celebrities, Buzz Aldrin — the former astronaut who walked on the moon in 1969 — spoke about human space exploration.
Want to go to Mars? Visit #SXSW panel with @NASA and @LockheedMartin to find out how! Today at 5pm. https://t.co/2gTnVCnxfM pic.twitter.com/ooorclEP3l
— Orion Spacecraft (@NASA_Orion) March 12, 2017
U.S. government officials and American politicians also come to mingle with the celebrities and tech executives.
The intersection of politics and technology is one major theme this year, with SXSW organizers creating a “Tech Under Trump” series of discussions. Topics include self-driving cars and the effects that artificial intelligence may have on jobs. One panel, “Startup Investing During the Trump Years,” looked at how the Trump administration could affect the investment landscape.
Some panels tout how technology can be used to achieve goals such as helping people seeking faith. Yasmin Green, head of research and development at Jigsaw — a technology incubator that is part of Alphabet, Google’s parent company — discussed how technology can be used to fight extremism.
Ultimately, SXSW this year — as in the past — is a giant party with thousands of people looking for the next big thing.