Intel CEO Bob Swan surrendered the CES stage in a rare moment of acknowledgement for the world outside CES, thanking emergency service workers in Australia for their efforts to deal with the current bushfire crisis.
Though surprising, the aside didn't come entirely without context. One of the early subjects discussed by Swan on-stage at this year's Intel CES press conference was the company's collaborations with Red Cross, specifically the Missing Maps Project. This effort looks to use AI technology to better prepare for disaster planning and emergency response by allowing response teams to better locate affected areas.
Closing our the segment of the presentation devoted to raising awareness of this initiative, Swan briefly stopped presenting and made a point of thanking emergency workers in Australia.
"It's just worth pausing for a moment to recognise the efforts - when we're talking about rescue missions - of first responders in Australia and the role that they're playing to try and eradicate the situation in Australia."
"It's having a real impact, so I think it'd be remiss if we didn't just pause and recognise the role of the first responders to thank them and to send our prayers and well wishes for their safety," Swan said.
Australia is currently in the midst of a historically devastating bushfire season that's begun earlier in the year than usual and has wreaked havoc across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania. To date, 27 lives have been lost, over 2700 homes have been destroyed and over 6.3 million hectares of land has been razed.
Disclosure - our coverage of CES 2020 was sponsored by Intel and Dell, who covered the cost of our flights to the US and our accommodation for the duration of our stay in Las Vegas.