Silicon Valley Comic Con comes with an extra dose of tech

SAN FRANCISCO — There's a huge conference coming to Silicon Valley, hosted by one of the biggest names in technology.

But this gathering isn't the Silicon Valley Innovation Summit, Google developer's conference or the Game Developers Conference — it's a different get-together for the geek-minded.

Kicking off Friday at the San Jose Convention Center, the inaugural Silicon Valley Comic Con will bring the internationally recognized comic, science fiction, fantasy and video gaming convention to the Bay Area.

Although the event will be smaller than the flagship San Diego Comic-Con, which last year drew nearly 170,000 attendees (the three-day Silicon Valley event is expected to draw 30,000 per day, with many attendees attending multiple days), Steve Wozniak, the event's host and pioneer of the personal computer, said it would be for the same audience.

"It's for people who are local who haven't been able to get to the San Diego one," said Wozniak, who co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs. "It'll be a full Comic Con in terms of the sorts and booths, presentations and celebrities that we have."

The key difference? There will be more technology — the kind that "carries over into pop culture," Wozniak said — and a greater focus on science fiction.

The convention will have a dedicated virtual reality zone where attendees will be able to play with the latest VR gadgets, and there will also be science-driven panels, such as one about whether artificial intelligence or "super babies" will be the greatest threat to humankind.

But Wozniak made clear that Silicon Valley Comic Con is "not just a tech conference."

The event will also feature a "Back to the Future" cast reunion, a presentation by actor William Shatner, appearances by "Mythbusters" co-host Adam Savage and science fiction authors and artists.

"I wanted to be a part of Silicon Valley Comic Con because for me this show highlights what the Valley has meant to science, technology and innovation and encapsulates what 'Back to the Future' is about," said Christopher Lloyd, one of the film's stars.

Wozniak said he was also excited to attend a panel hosted by cosplay experts — people with deep knowledge of the subculture of dressing up as characters from popular culture.

"I will not be cosplaying because I don't think of myself as that type of artist," he said. "But when I was young, after we'd sold our millionth Apple 2 computer, we had a Halloween costume contest and I won. I went as a gruesome monster, and when I took off the face there was a worse face under it."

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