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AUSTIN, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 02: Record Producer Timbaland attends the 2023 Afrotech Conference Innovation Stage - Day One at ACL Live on November 02, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Robin L Marshall/Getty Images for AfroTech)

Welcome to Afrotech 2023

Afrotech 2023 is the largest Black tech conference of the year. It is an environment where rising leaders in the tech community can come together to network and learn about the ever-evolving technology around us. In addition to the numerous installations by many of the world’s most cutting-edge companies, like Google and Tesla, established speakers and creators from the community give unique insight into the potential future of the newest emerging industries. 

In addition to all of this, the event includes performances by some heavy hitting musical artists and great talents; Rick Ross, DJ Spinderella, Joe Kay, Andre Power, and Jadaboo.

According 2 Hip Hop is here in Austin Texas covering it all.

The Beginning

Day one of Afrotech 2023 kicked off with an extremely great start as the Austin Convention Center, and surrounding venues, were packed to the brim with enterprising thinkers in the tech community. At the nearby Moody Theatres venue acclaimed artist and mutli-platinum award winning producer, Timbaland, gave a speech to an overflowing audience at the very start of the day. All the following attractions and discourses were met with audiences that were large, engaged, and represented key positions in the emerging fields to which they were learning about. 

With other keynote speeches made by prominent musical power-houses like Zaytoven, and the overall technology driven nature of the event, many people in this sphere are on the front lines of succeeding in the music industry despite the newest challenges, and potential opportunities, presented by the emergence of easily accessible recording technologies, the changes in channels of distribution, and most importantly of all, the emergence of A.I. and the many ways that it affects the future of the music industry. 

AUSTIN, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 02: (L-R) Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer at Blavity, Inc. Jeff Nelson and Chief Executive Officer at Calendly Tope Awotona speak at the 2023 AfroTech Conference Executive Stage on November 02, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for AfroTech)

The possibilities and hurdles presented by A.I. were explored during the event ‘Music in the Age of A.I.: We Are the Training Data’ in which Daouda Leonard, who is founder and CEO of CreateSafe, and Naithan Jones, who is founder of Oyi Labs, discussed ways in which A.I. technologies might be best used to expand the music and entertainment industries. They can help with talent management and talent acquisition, open access to using a DAW and creating instrumentation with much less knowledge and experience, which in turn can allow artists to more fluidly experiment with sounds and styles that they present to their audience. They can be used to further expand an artist’s reach and improve distribution. The possibilities seem truly endless. 

While there is so much potential value in these possibilities, A.I. technologies also present many unknown risk factors to both artists and the established platforms as they deal with a deluge of non-human created music. Artists can have their voice and songwriting replicated and be made to appear to create content and say things that they had nothing to do with. Naturally this is a very scary thought for anybody, and especially for those who have established renown and reputation. The amount of damage these practices can cause to individuals and to the public at large is incalculable. 

Ironically, the future of the defense efforts against A.I. generated content will most likely be the implementation of more A.I. programs that are designed to identify and flag content that is generated by a learning machine and not by a human. With the right guardrails in place to protect creators, there is untold potential in how A.I. technology can improve the ability for artists of all kinds to facilitate and manage their own growth while increasing their ability to monetize on their own content. 

All said, Afrotech 2023 is an impressive display of both the future of the tech/music communities, and the involvement of Black leadership in the shaping of their future. 



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