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Unlocking the Future of Work

Deadline: September 21, 2018

“The most exciting breakthroughs of the 21st century will not only occur because of technology but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.”

– John Naisbitt, Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives

Whether we imagine an utopian or dystopian future, whether we envision a future of work where humans and machines co-exist and work together, or one where workers are replaced by machines and algorithms, we know that many features of that the future are already here. But in many cases, other aspects are unpredictable. Typically, conversations around the Future of Work tend to focus on technology, and its social and economic impact, as well as on the new structures of work and configurations of the workplace. However, little attention is given to the forces driving this change.

This year TO DO Talks Symposium raises the question: What about humans in the future of work?

This isn’t a debate about man against machine because a future that is more human lies beyond technology itself. People are our most important asset. At this point, it is critical to stretch our imaginations, creating space for possibilities and inclusion, but keep grounded in our humanity. The ideal outcome is a better future for all of us.

So if we’re to design an inclusive future that works for all of us, we need to redefine the conversation about the Future of Work and tackle some complex questions: What is future of work? What motivates it? Who governs it? Who’s leading it? Who’s included? Who is prepared for it? Who can access it? And who benefits from it?

TO DO Talks Symposium seeks designers and thinkers to give presentations that inspire. Talks may be about current research or case studies, new products or technologies, spaces or experiences, speculative design or strategies, or new processes or policies. We welcome diverse perspectives and responses to the theme of the future of work with a specific emphasis on values, ethics, education, access, and inclusion.

All submissions must include the following:

  1.   A description of your talk topic (max. 500 words), including target audience, format, length/timing (10-15 minutes preferred*), and equipment needed;
  2.   a short bio on you and/or your creative practice (max. 150 words);
  3.   1 -3 visuals of your work (max. 1MB per image), or a link to a video (if available); and
  4.   Your:
    1. contact info (name, email, phone number, mailing address),
    2. a CV,
    3. website URL, Twitter and Instagram handles (if available), and
    4. a link to a video of previous presentations (if available).

* Presentation timing will be confirmed after acceptance.

Click here to submit

ONLY submissions through the online form will be considered.


All submissions are due Friday, September 21, 2018 by 11:59pm EST.

How much does it cost to submit?

There is no fee for this submission. All successful applicants are required to arrange their own
transportation and accommodations to Toronto for the Symposium date. A modest speaker’s
fee will be paid to selected speakers.

When and where is the Symposium?

The Symposium runs Saturday, January 26, 2019, from 1-5pm. It will be held at George Brown College, in downtown Toronto. We reserve the right to modify dates or times if required.

What happens next?

Successful submissions will be notified by email by October 22, 2018.


Email any questions to Programs Lead Simon Mhanna at [email protected] with this subject line: Symposium + your name.

Going into its fourth year, the TO DO Talks Symposium is a signature program of the annual Toronto Design Offsite Festival, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing design culture. The symposium is made possible by the support of George Brown College, School of Design.

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