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WGSN’s key takeaways from SXSW 2023

Festival-goer posing in front of mural
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Mar 28, 2023 By WGSN Insider
Updates from WGSN

We talk political snacks, meme culture and more emerging trends from the annual festival of film, interactive media, music and conferences.

WGSN’s Joe McDonnell, Cassandra Napoli and Brielle Saggese were live at Austin, Texas, for the 36th SXSW. The festival brings together creatives and entrepreneurs from around the world, providing fertile ground for the exchange of thoughts and ideas.

We highlight the key themes, including the conversation about ChatGPT, as well as the reach of AI in healthcare, marketing and more, and examine what they mean for the future of health, work and play.

People holding paper bags and beer
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Resurrecting extinct species

“Colossal Biosciences, a biotech startup, is working on a project to genetically engineer Asian elephants to create a hybrid species – which is technically a mammoth, they can survive in the arctic tundra.

“And they’re going to replicate it across a whole range of different extinct animals. This is obviously ‘Jurassic Park-y’, slightly crazy as a concept. They’re approaching it from the standpoint of protecting animals and mitigating climate change.”
– Joe McDonnell, Director of Insight, WGSN

Artworks displayed on wall
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Marketing and meta-washing

“There was a talk about meta-washing from the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, who talked about how the metaverse has become this big buzzword – it’s very much a marketing jargon – and how most brands are misunderstanding what it means to enter the metaverse.

“The biggest takeaway for brands is that entering the metaverse or embracing Web3 has to mean something in the future. It can’t be a marketing word just to be part of the conversation.”
– Cassandra Napoli, Insight Senior Strategist, WGSN

People in front of a mural
WGSN Original Image

Exploring the bounds of gamified surgery

“I got to play a video game that’s being used to train surgeons on how to prepare for different surgeries. It allowed you to choose your own adventure. What scalpel do you want to use? What artery do you want to cut open?

“It was super user-friendly and it was kind of a ‘WTF’ moment for someone who knows nothing about surgery, to have that fun opportunity.” 
– Brielle Saggese, Insight Strategist, WGSN

Mural by @itscandykuo
WGSN Original Image/@itscandykuo

To hear the full discussion, tune into episode 72 of our Create Tomorrow podcast, The Ultimate SXSW 2023 Recap – From Woolly Mammoths to Gamifying Surgery, on Anchor, Apple and Spotify.

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