South by Southwest high-tech highlights

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Snowden SXSW
Edward Snowden gave a talk on privacy via video conference, since he can’t step foot in the US without being arrested for giving up national secrets.

South by Southwest (SXSW) is one of the biggest festival-conferences around, and this year, the large gathering kicked off on March 7. One leg of the show is called SXSW Interactive, and it’s dedicated to high-tech gadgets, presentations, and guest speakers. The latest buzz from SXSW is that Google’s getting more involved in wearable tech, ex-CIA employee Edward Snowden wants to protect citizen privacy, and leading researchers say robots will be as common as smartphones in the future.

At the festival, Google announced they plan to release what is known as a software development kit (SDK) – basically, software that allows companies to make apps for devices. In this case, Google hopes everyone will use their popular Android operating systems to create apps for smartwatches, fitness trackers, and any other type of wearable tech available on the market. If the gear is going to be approved by Edward Snowden though – the ex-CIA employee who leaked secret government files to the public – it better have some basic security features.

Snowden, one of the guest speakers at the SXSW, had a lot to say about privacy. He warned that Americans need to be equipped with tools to protect them from surveillance, since the average citizen doesn’t know how to safeguard themselves from prying eyes. He also said that the US Congress needs to be monitored so they’re discouraged from spying on unsuspecting citizens. With the way technology is heading now, that may be even harder to achieve.

According to the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory director, robots will be as commonplace in the near future as smartphones are today. They will be found in all types of fields including medicine, transportation, city planning, education, and even personal assistants. With a robot following everyone, Snowden’s going to need to come up with new strategies for people to keep a low profile!

Featured image courtesy of Heisenberg Media on Flickr. Image of Edward Snowden courtesy of DonkeyHotey on Flickr.