An Uncharted Future – 2021 Themes

An Uncharted Future - 2021 SXSW Theme

This year more than ever, the future is unknown. Technology, biohacking, consumer space travel, quantum physics, radical life extension, drone delivery — these concepts that once belonged in science fiction are now part of our immediate future. At SXSW Online 2021 we will journey into the unknown with sessions addressing the new.

Discover highlighted Conference sessions below from this year's theme An Uncharted Future.

A New Space Age: The Virtual Collective Experience

Space has always been the area beyond what we have been capable of reaching, with advances recently, it's time to redefine what space means to us culturally and socially. Our belief at PHI and Felix & Paul Studios is that the new ways in which art has intersected technology mirrors our progress into the stars. The experience of space has been, by necessity, technologically mediated, and with immersive technology, the boundary is no longer getting to space, but rather, how we can bring space back down to earth. Through ∞INFINITE, our project with the International Space Station (in association with TIME Studios) will explore our capacity as a species to go beyond our limits, and reflect collectively on humanity’s place among the stars together.

Speakers: Myriam Achard (PHI), Felix Lajeunesse (Felix & Paul Studios), Phoebe Greenberg (PHI)

Bugs And Kelp, Feeding Our Post-Pandemic Planet

As we build a better food system out of the pandemic, cellular meat or bleeding plant patties may seem like a great idea, but bugs and kelp might just be our best bet to substantially change how we feed people on a global scale. Alternative crops like kelp, algae and seaweed, or micro-livestock like farmed insects are often overshadowed by flashier techno-food solutions with wild valuations, but both are nutritionally dense and resource efficient methods to grow food that can be deployed today, with historic and cultural roots worldwide. We'll explore industry hurdles and growth opportunities in this nascent space; look at broader consumer perceptions driving larger companies to take stock of alternative proteins, and what the future holds for farmers and founders building this new market.

Speakers: Tom Philpott (Mother Jones), Kerry Rupp (True Wealth Ventures), Mohammed Ashour (Aspire Food Group), Liz Koutsos (Enviroflight)

Journey to a Better Brain

People are always seeking to be better whether it’s stronger, faster, or smarter. The recent explosion in our understanding of the brain is empowering us to take control of our own brain health, and is accompanied by a wave of products powered by neuroscience, from brain boosting nootropic pills to devices that stimulate the brain’s inherent electrical signals directly. New invasive technologies like Elon Musk’s Neuralink show great promise, but brain surgery is a formidable barrier to scaling. Non-invasive alternatives like EEG and tES could be part of Fitbit for the brain to come, but come with their own practical and ethical issues. This conversation highlights emerging tools coming out of both academia and industry, and exciting experiments happening around the world.

Speakers: Iain McIntyre (Humm), Vivienne Ming (Socos)

Rocketing Forward in Gene Therapy

Imagine walking into a hospital with your child who has an unknown disease. A nurse takes a DNA sample and in days identifies the disease’s genetic cause. Expert engineers construct a vector to replace the mutated gene, and manufacturing is mobilized to produce it, generating a life-saving treatment in months. Believe it or not, we are entering that era now. Expert gene therapists are churning out potential therapies for devastating diseases, and companies are building the manufacturing infrastructure to bring the therapies to those in need. In this panel, a scientist on the frontiers of gene therapy, the executive driving the development to make these therapies a reality for all and a parent actively searching for a therapy will discuss the uncharted territory that is gene therapy.

Speakers: RA Session (Taysha Gene Therapies), Kasey Woleben (Cure SURF1 Foundation and Rare Village Foundation), Sukumar Nagendran (AveXis Inc), Sarah Richards (Canale Communications), Laura Sepp-Lorenzino (Intellia Therapeutics)

Check out the seven conference themes and browse all sessions under An Uncharted Future.

View Sessions

$149 SXSW Online Passes Nearly Sold Out

Register for SXSW Online 2021

From March 16-20, experience Conference sessions and Keynotes, music showcases, film screenings, world-class networking, online exhibitions, networking events, mentor sessions, professional development, and more, all in a digital setting. SXSW Comedy Festival content will be announced as we get closer to the March event.

Stay in the SX know – subscribe to our email lists and read SXSW News for announcements, event updates, programming features, and more throughout the season.

Register Now

Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook for the latest SX coverage.

By Hailey Hess