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SXSW 2018 agenda: politics, cryptocurrencies & Facebook

Austin skyline
The Austin skyline at sunset. Photo: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc./Corbis via Getty Images

This year's South by Southwest conference will be packed with events on digital currencies, health data, and artificial intelligence — a sign of how quickly these have become the biggest topics in future trends. But there's also a recognition of a dark side: lots of panels about how social media is reshaping news and information, and not always for the better.

What to watch: The festival starts in Austin today. Watch for panels on tech industry trends like cryptocurrencies and voice assistants, the growing presence of lawmakers, a particular interest in media, and especially Facebook’s growing influence. You can also catch a panel on "innovation superpowers." Oh yeah, and Ethan Hawke will be there.