By Jay Morgan, group digital creative director for J. Walter Thompson and Webling Sydney

One of the things you pick up on fairly quickly at SX Interactive are the undercurrents. Even though there are over 1,000 different sessions throughout the week, common themes start to emerge. A universal thought if you will that connects all the speakers and the delegates.

While last year’s trends highlighted the commoditisation of artificial intelligence (AI) it was merely an introduction. This year almost every track from every sector is discussing the effect AI will have on the world.

Health, automotive, transportation, education and government are all talking about the impact of AI. The commentary on these talks is running the gauntlet.

One end is heralding the golden age of automation and the benefits to humanity, while the other has been expounding cautionary warnings about the need for oversight and governance of this new technology. Seems like a common history on the uptake of many new technologies – when we sense the immense power of a new technology we are both giddy with the possibilities and terrified at the same time.

Politics, with little surprise, is getting a lot of play this year. What has been really interesting however is the shift in narrative. Cory Booker, Senator of New Jersey, gave an impassioned opening speech to the festival declaring we need to move from a dialogue of tolerance to love.

This was echoed by multiple speakers including Van Jones – CNN commentator and the host of The Messy Truth. Van’s message is one of inclusion too as he seeks to bring people into a progressive conversation through his #LoveArmy initiative.

As I consider both these salient themes I can’t help but think they are intrinsically tied together.

There are parallels between them that I think are important to the state of flux we find ourselves in right now.

With AI we have strong proponents at each end of the conversation. The pioneers are championing the virtues of an AI-driven world, where we should embrace the amazing value it can offer to our lives. Google with Tensor Flow and, Microsoft and Facebook are all huge champions of the technology and encourage uptake. However, they demonstrate very little restraint.

While on the other end we see this cautionary voice from the likes of Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawkins that warn of the potential for detrimental impact.

Just like in the global political debate, the AI argument displays parallels for the left and right.

What emerges this year are the new proponents that are advocating to bring the conversation to the centre.

It’s clear that our world is divided possibly now more than ever. And in a world where we have never had so much information, it’s odd that we have so much trouble coming to the middle and developing a new dialogue.

Throughout SXSW I have been buoyed by the new voice of reason that is transcending the conversations across all topics.

It seems to me that this has been the critical missing element across the convergence of technology and society.

While much of the past 12 months since the last SXSW has been marred by uncertainty and uneasiness this new voice promises to shine a light in the direction we should go.

If SXSW continues to be the canary down the mine it has been for over 30 years, then this unifying voice we are finding could make for a positive year ahead, and that encourages me tremendously.

To hear more on how SXSW can give you five conversations you can have with clients tomorrow, the Account Planning Group is hosting “Insights from SXSW 2017” in Sydney on April 12 and Melbourne on April 20. Places are limited – book here.

This article first appeared on the J. Walter Thompson Asia Pacific SXSW blog.