Annual tech gabfest promises high concept virtual reality news and good old fashioned hawking of paper books.

COURTESY: TECHFESTNW - Nicole Perlroth, a Cybersecurity Reporter for the New York Times

The annual TechFest Northwest conference returns March 23-24 at the Portland Art Museum.

The conference aims to bring to Portland some of the more articulate technologists who can relate their work to its real life effects and face questions. This year there are four themes: Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Lifestyle Tech and Digital Storytelling.

Virtual Reality

Portland's virtual, augmented and mixed reality sectors haven't proliferated but they are stronger. We have the same number of usual suspects, but they are getting stronger: Oregon Storyboard, Object Theory, 360 Labs and Dot Dot Dash (which also does normal reality events) will be on hand. Speakers representing the mixed reality field include:

David Ortiz, video game lifer and CEO and Founder of Emortal Sports. While at EA Sports Ortiz lead Madden NFL for EA Sports, and then became a game designer at Microsoft. He founded Deuces Digital and patented a disruptive real time prediction technology.

Anarghya Vardhana is a Portlander who made her name in Silicon Valley picking startups for investors. This former product manager (a thankless task) also worked in the nonprofit world with Ushahidi. At Google she lead operational teams. At Rothenberg Ventures she focuses on consumer and media investments and frontier technology.

Eren Aksu, VR Film maker and entrepreneur with Emblematic Group. He will talk about Project Syria, which amongst other things lets you (sort of) feel what it's like to be bombed.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JONATHAN HOUSE - Alex Sujun-kim Panng speaking at TechFestNW 2016.

Artificial Intelligence

AI (or thinking machines) is always about to happen, so we need a simple explanation of why they are still dumb.

Enter AI scholar Jerry Kaplan, also a fellow at the Center for Legal Informatics at Stanford University. "Artificial Intelligence: What Everyone Needs to Know" is his new book.

Portlander Daniel H. Wilson is the author of Robopocalypse and its Robogenesis, as well as How to Survive a Robot Uprising, A Boy and His Bot, Amped and the new novel The Clockwork Dynasty.

Tim Weber, HP's Global Head of 3D Materials and Advanced Applications, will talk about the next wave of 3D printing, including multi-jet fusion.

Lifestyle Tech

Shahab Salemy lead's Nike's team driving the strategy and delivery of digital products. Just don't mention the Fuelband.

PERS alert: Rukaiyah Adams is the Chief Investment Officer at Meyer Memorial Trust, leading their investments, but she is also Vice Chair of the Oregon lnvestment Council, the board that manages approximately $90 Billion for the Oregon Public Employee Retirement Fund.

Jeremy Plumb is the CEO and founder of Newcleus Nurseries, cannabis farm and a dispensary, Farma.

Local hero Eric Breon will be talking about the vacation rental business and his company Vacasa, and how to digitally manage 1,400 employees and 4,000 rental properties.

Digital Storytelling

German YouTuber Flula Borg and sometime Conan O'Brien contributor promises some pro tips about converting "static marketing to persuasive narratives that inspire users and create lifelong customers." He said lifelong.

New York Times Cybersecurity Reporter Nicole Perlroth is a writes about cyberespionage. And is working on an old fashioned paper book on the underground cyberweapons market, titled "This Is How They Tell Me The World Ends."

U.S. senator Ron Wyden, a long timer on the Senate Intelligence committee, will talk about watching the watchers and what we have learned from the Clapper Tell.

Other speakers include writer G. Pascal Zachary and Matt Pfaffenbach the Daimler Trucks North America Director of Connectivity. The MCs are Ajay Malhotra of CBRE and gift boxer Paige Hendrix Buckner of ClientJoy.

For the second year running TFNW includes PitchFestNW, wherein hopeful startups describe their product and business model and look for attention (and a mere $1,000) from a panel of experts.

Joseph Gallivan

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