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Julian Assange speaks virtually at South by Southwest

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Julian Assange Appears at South by Southwest

About SXSW 2014:

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Surveillance. Online privacy. Robots. Food processing. Wearable computers. To get a sense of what's on the minds of the tech industry's thinkers, leaders and tinkerers, it's a good idea to head to Austin, Texas, rather than Silicon Valley this time of the year.

More than 30,000 people descend on this eccentric city for the South By Southwest Interactive Festival each March. This year, NSA leaker Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder and secret spiller Julian Assange are topping the bill, alongside Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and Anne Wojcicki, CEO of genetics testing company 23andMe.

Snowden and Assange won't be making the trip to Texas, however. They'll appear on live video, since both are living as fugitives, in Moscow and the Ecuadorian embassy in London, respectively. Their inclusion illustrates how the festival is trying to balance holding on to its independent roots even as it's flooded by a barrage of corporate sponsors and threatens to grow too big for its hometown.

"We have always said that South By Southwest is a very big tent and we have all different types of people," said Hugh Forrest, director of the interactive festival. "This is a feature and not a flaw."

Still, it's clear that online privacy and government surveillance is on top of the technology set's mind this year. Snowden, the former NSA contractor who appears Monday, faces felony charges in the U.S. after revealing the agency's mass surveillance program by leaking thousands of classified documents to media outlets. He is living under temporary asylum in Russia, which has no extradition treaty with the U.S.

Snowden is unlikely to talk about the case against him during the session and will focus instead on "how technology enables surveillance and how technology can protect us from surveillance," said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union. Soghoian will be speaking to Snowden along with Snowden's legal adviser, the ACLU's Ben Wizner. Snowden is being represented by the ACLU in the U.S. government's case against him.

Speaking at South By Southwest - rather than in front of Congress or at a conference of lawyers - gives Snowden a chance to talk to the technology community, "his peers," Soghoian said.

"The reason the NSAs collected as much information as it did is because of technology," he said. "Technology got us into this mess and technology will get us out of it."

Assange, meanwhile, will speak on Saturday with Benjamin Palmer, the co-founder of The Barbarian Group, a marketing agency whose clients range from Pepsi to Samsung to New York City. As to why a marketing executive is interviewing a figure as controversial as Assange? A hint: Visitors to the group's website are greeted with the message "We create ideas that provoke a reaction."

Part of the larger South By Southwest festival that also includes music, film and recently education segments, SXSWi, as it's dubbed, became a separate event in 1994, when it was still called "SXSW Multimedia." Past speakers have ranged from the computer scientist and virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier in 1997 to investor Mark Cuban in 1999 and Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams in 2004.

This is where Twitter soared from obscurity to the world stage in 2007, where Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg appeared on stage in 2008 when his site was still the No. 2 online social network behind MySpace and where the location-sharing app Foursquare emerged a year later.

Attendees looking for the next Twitter, Facebook or even Foursquare here, though, might have to dig a bit deeper these days. As the festival evolves and grows bigger each year, it's becoming more difficult - not to mention more expensive - to stand out as the coolest startup or the most useful app.

For Caroline Tien-Spalding, marketing director at imaging firm ArcSoft, the interactive festival is where new ideas percolate.

"You have a lot of things at the very, very beginning. You don't know what's going to make it and what won't," said Tien-Spalding, who is giving a presentation about the future of facial recognition technology, titled "The Good, the Bad & the Ugly," on Tuesday.

Other sessions at the five-day festival include discussions such as "The Next Steve Jobs May Be from Africa," "The Internet of Cars" and "Welcoming the Robot Workforce." On Sunday, Rodrigo Martinez, life sciences chief strategist at the design firm IDEO, will be part of a panel about the future of wearable technology called "The Connected Body - Can We Get Value from Wearables."

The problem, he says, is that the conversations about wearables are being driven by hardware and software rather than the motivations, needs and inspirations of the humans who use them.

"Forget about technology," he said. "What are the things that matter to an individual - and then you design around that."

---

Online:

Snowden's speech will be webcast on Monday, March 10 at 11 a.m. CST. Check for the links to the live stream here: HTTP://BIT.LY/1HGHNPR

Assange's speech will not be available online.

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

Join the discussion

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food chef March 09 2014 at 1:29 AM

Any one notice if WRITE ANYTHING AOL DON"T LiKE DOESN"T POST AS TECH DIFFICULTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AOL FREEDOM OF SPEACH A_HOLES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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1 reply
BoB food chef March 09 2014 at 4:09 AM

remember to go the main welcome page and go to help and feed back at the bottom and complain, about HP also.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
tmmd March 08 2014 at 9:15 PM

If my government can listen to my conversation and observe what I am looking at or researching online then I am not free, nor is my country! A little surveillance will always grows large in government and in the wrong hands will become very dangerous. It is already happening and the only thing hiding it, is ignorance!

Flag Reply +10 rate up
3 replies
frank1946 March 09 2014 at 12:36 AM

No Habeas Corpus.................Probable Cause...........................means No Freedom.

USA now USSR.

Just the Facts !

Flag Reply +6 rate up
peterg3fan!! March 08 2014 at 6:33 PM

>>>Stand up and be heard, then get mowed down by a "free" country.
..imagine what he really knows?

Flag Reply +5 rate up
mazdapub March 08 2014 at 9:10 PM

Politicians must learn lessons from demise of the Roman Empire, Persian Empire and other empires who also used technology of their time to spy, kill, murder, lie to, and steal from their own people and peopels whom they conquired. Alas, they are deaf, dumb and mute.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
Stephan March 09 2014 at 3:29 AM

Hi AP idiots in Austin!
I worked for AP in Sweden and worldwide for 40 years.
Ass raped two Swedish women in Sweden
Well documented.
Not a single word about that in your story!
Total scandal
Or do I need eyeglasses at age 63?

Karl Ritter, COB in Stockholm, check this!

Flag Reply +11 rate up
flbuyer1 March 09 2014 at 10:15 AM

If he really "appeared" he would be in jail.......

Flag Reply +3 rate up
jagarundi March 08 2014 at 8:18 PM

I have a huge problem with all those who are anti-Snowden and especially against Julian Assange - I am an immigration lawyer with 45 years + with the government both Federal and state of Texas - I have seen ideas that people want to KILL these people, especially Assange - this is horrible - my experience and training make me ask this question - WHAT EXACTLY IS THE GOVERNMENT FEARING ABOUT THE TRUTH BEING REVEALED????????? Things like the "homeland security" letting out 60 mil contracts without bids should be revealed - I hope these men get protection and really am suspicious of what the people out to get them are hiding. Since when is the truth dangerous? Since the government secrets are being found out - this goes back ages but the most recent and horrid example I remember is Reagan selling arms to Iraq to fund the mess in Nicaragua (he should have been tried for treason) and the interferring in El Salvador which kept that war going for 12 years. I hope these men are safe and protected and can educate the largely ignorant population that has no idea what is going on in international politics - even Obama whom I really had high hopes for since he is a U of Chicago prof or at least TA in constitutional law is looking for a way to get into Ukraine - is there no hope for interferring Americans - let the truth be known.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
3 replies
Thomas March 09 2014 at 11:30 AM

Julian the ass ange.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
emscelebrity March 09 2014 at 3:27 AM

Both Assange and Snowden are traitors of the US; and in my opinion so is this so called 'festival' and evryone that attended. I hope the CIA and NSA are taking notes.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
1 reply
Marlena emscelebrity March 09 2014 at 8:22 AM

They are NOT they speak to the people the TRUTH you must be an old azz hole ! Get your head out of the sand.....

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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