Amazingly talented humans from all over the world – from different spheres and of different opinions – will share their intriguing projects and mind-blowing theories to help you navigate the complexity of now and beyond. Practically speaking, expect anything from neuroscientists to economists to artists to chefs.
While waiting for The Conference 2022, do get lost in our huge video archive with recorded talks from previous years.
THE 32 OUT OF 32 BRILLIANT SOULS ARE ANNOUNCED
Adrian Hon (UK)Six to Start
Co-founder & CEO, Six to Start (UK)
Adrian Hon is co-founder and CEO at Six to Start, creators of game-like stories and story-like games including the world's bestselling smartphone fitness game, "Zombies, Run!" with ten million players. He's author of A History of the Future in 100 Objects and the upcoming critique of gamification, You've Been Played. Before becoming a game designer, Adrian was a neuroscientist and experimental psychologist at Cambridge, UCSD, and Oxford.
At The Conference, Adrian will draw from his long experience in imagining the yet unimagined. How does one go about to read the past in order to write the future?
Adrian has also spoken at the flagship TED conference, the Long Now Foundation, GoogleX, and Disney Imagineering.
Alice Rawsthorn (UK)Design as an Attitude | Design Emergency
Author and Design Critic, Design as an Attitude | Design Emergency (UK)
Alice Rawsthorn is an award-winning design critic and author, whose books include Design as an Attitude, Hello World: Where Design Meets Life and, most recently, Design Emergency: Building a Better Future. Her weekly design column for The New York Times was syndicated worldwide for over a decade. In all her work, Alice champions design’s potential as a social, political and ecological tool. Born in Manchester and based in London, she is chair of the board of trustees of Chisenhale Gallery and a founding member of the Writers for Liberty campaign for human rights.
Alice is also co-founder with Paola Antonelli of Design Emergency, a research platform that investigates design’s role in forging a fairer future – which she will elaborate on during The Conference.
Photography: Michael Leckie
Bas van de Poel (NL)Modem
Bas van de Poel
Co-founder and Innovation Director, Modem (NL)
Bas van de Poel is co-founder at Modem; an office for design and innovation committed to creating experiences for a new world. Whether through research papers with institutions like MIT, Harvard GSD or UC Berkeley or its work with clients such as Nike, Google, Snap Inc. and OpenAI. Prior to Modem, Bas served as Creative Director at IKEA’s research and design lab SPACE10 where he led large-scale digital transformation and sustainability programs.
Calle Rosengren (SWE)Lund University
Director of the School of Work Environment and Leadership, Lund University (SWE)
Calle Rosengren is a director of the School of Work Environment and Leadership at Lund University. One of his main areas of research is work practices - especially threats and possibilities in the transition from the standard work week in which employees work in one location to an increasingly fluid situation where working time has become more diverse and flexible.
Some of Calle’s recent projects include "Are you going home already?", which aims to elucidate the relations between knowledge-intensive work, organizational culture, working time, psychosocial well-being and organizational performance. “Activity-based working - The office of the future?" which seeks to evaluate and further elaborate on digital technology and office solutions in relation to organizational culture and creativity/innovation. As well as "Digiwork: Work and organization in the digital age" and "A sustainable digital working life".
Carl Benedikt Frey (UK)Oxford University
Carl Benedikt Frey
Founding Director of The Future of Work programme, Oxford University (UK)
Carl Benedikt Frey is the Oxford Martin Citi Fellow and founder and director of the programme on the Future of Work at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford. He is a global thought leader on the future of work and how technology alters the workforce and our economies.
In 2013, Carl co-authored The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerization”, estimating that 47% of jobs are at risk of automation. The study’s methodology has over 6000 citations and has been used by President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, the Bank of England, the World Bank, and a popular risk-prediction tool by the BBC. In 2019, the paper was debated on the Last Week Tonight Show with John Oliver.
He also wrote “The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor, and Power in the Age of Automation”, which was selected as a Financial Times Best Book of the Year 2019.
Carl has served as an advisor and consultant to international organisations, think tanks, government and business, including the G20, the OECD, the European Commission, the United Nations, and several Fortune 500 companies.
Carolyn Steel (UK)Author of Sitopia & Hungry city
Architect, Author of Sitopia & Hungry city (UK)
What is a good life? Through the lens of food and cities British architect and author Carolyn Steel poses burning questions about value and progress, illuminating the obscure (and sometimes outright stupid) systems that we’ve put in place to live life better. For Carolyn, how we’ll eat in the future is really a matter of how we want to live and at The Conference 2022 she’ll take us on a journey through the many ways in which food has and could shape our cities and societies.
Carolyn Steel is a leading thinker on food and cities. She is the author of the award-winning Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives and Sitopia: How Food Can Save the World. Her concept of Sitopia, or food-place (from the Greek sitos, food + topos, place), has gained broad recognition across a wide range of fields in design, ecology, academia and the arts.
Christina Agapakis (USA)Ginkgo Bioworks
Creative Director, Ginkgo Bioworks (USA)
Christina Agapakis is a Greek-American synthetic biologist and artist whose work brings together biologists, engineers, designers, artists, and social scientists to imagine different futures and cultures of biotechnology. She has made cheese using starter cultures collected from the human body, resurrected the smell of extinct flowers, and photosynthetic animals.
At The Conference Christina will talk about the meatverse—the living, fleshy, biological world we inhabit and often take for granted. How will new biological technologies shape our experience of the meatverse? And how could an appreciation for our corporeal reality and our biological needs and abilities lead to a better life?
Christina is the head of Creative at Ginkgo Bioworks, a publicly traded synthetic biology company based in Boston. At Ginkgo, she leads a dynamic interdisciplinary team (ginkgobioworks.studio) working at the interface of synthetic biology and society to build more ethical and equitable technology, through strategic communication, design, and public policy.
Darja Isaksson (SWE)Vinnova
Director General, Vinnova (SWE)
Darja Isaksson is Director General of Vinnova, Sweden’s national innovation agency, and serves as a member of the Swedish government’s National Digitalization Council. As the founder of two innovation studios, she has worked in business and product development for clients such as Sony Ericsson, Ikea and Husqvarna too. Darja has served as adviser to the Prime Minister’s Innovation Council, been recognized as one of Sweden’s most powerful opinion-makers and was named one of the world’s 100 most influential people in digital government by the website Apolitical.
So, who’d be better suited to say a thing or two about innovation? Exactly. You’ll hear from Darja Isaksson in a session called ”How to organize innovation” in which she’ll talk about large-scale mission-driven innovation.
Ewa Westermark (DEN)Gehl
Architect and Urban Designer, Gehl (DEN)
Ewa Westermark is a Partner and director at Gehl in Copenhagen and brings 20 years of international experience as an Architect and Urban designer. At the core of her work is making cities for people focusing on public space and public life as vital keys to solving global challenges and increasing people’s health and quality of life.
Ewa has experience from working with cities ranging from New York transforming Broadway, post-earthquake recovery plan for Christchurch, New Zealand to transforming smaller cities in Scandinavia.
Grace Boyle (UK)The Feelies
Founder and Creative Director, The Feelies (UK)
Grace Boyle is the founder and director of The Feelies, an independent studio developing how we can experience sensory stories in spatial, immersive contexts.
Her work with The Feelies has taken her around the world, won multiple awards, and innovation funding. It has been performed in over a dozen countries. Grace has given talks at, amongst many others, the Future of Storytelling festival in New York, Frieze art fair, on the BBC World Service, and as a guest lecturer at the Royal College of Art, London.
She holds master's degrees in Chemistry from the University of Manchester and the University of California, Berkeley, and in Robotics and Advanced Construction from the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia.
Hillary Juma (USA)Mozilla
Common Voice Community Manager, Mozilla (USA)
Hillary is the Common Voice Community Manager at Mozilla. Mozilla Common Voice is an open-source initiative to make voice technology more inclusive. Contributors donate speech data to a public dataset, which anyone can then use to train voice-enabled technology. Hillary supports contributors in actualising their goals for the dataset. Hillary has contributed to the State of the Internet languages report and won a DEI award from the Women in Voice community.
At The Conference, Hillary will be speaking about How to use a computer.
Prior to joining Mozilla, Hillary was Data Science Community and Engagement Manager, at the Office for National Statistics.
Joanne McNeil (USA)Too early for the future
Author of Lurking and the forthcoming, Too early for the future (USA)
Joanne McNeil is the author of the much acclaimed book ’Lurking: How a Person Became a User’ (2020) and the forthcoming novel "Wrong Way". She is also working on yet another book (!), one about the practice and history of speculating on the future.
In her work, Joanne is interested in the ways that technology shapes culture and society. While Lurking told the story of how we became users, and how we've change with the internet – her new work, of which she will talk about at The Conference – investigates where the business of futurism collides with the actual impact it has on lived reality, and how one can often the change the other.
Joanne has been a resident at Eyebeam, a Logan Nonfiction Program fellow, and an instructor at the School for Poetic Computation. Her essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Wired, Filmmaker, The Baffler and many more.
Jordi Roca (ESP)El Celler De Can Roca
Pastry chef, El Celler De Can Roca (ESP)
Jordi Roca is a world renowned pastry chef, who together with his two brothers run the three starred restaurant El Celler De Can Roca in Girona, Spain. The restaurant which is known for its creative twist on the Catalan kitchen – has been labeled ”The world’s best restaurant” twice during the last 10 years. And Jordi Roca himself has been labeled the ”World’s best pastry chef”.
Once Jordi got introduced to the magic of sweet cooking, he has never looked back but has felt an absolute need to express his life in a sweet way. Everything can trigger his imagination and he loves playing with the limits of what’s possible. He is obsessed with surprise and the sensory experiences that sweets can provoke and at The Conference 2022 he will talk about this – about enhancing and acknowledging senses, and about how to make up for lost ones.
In 2018, he was featured in the Netflix blockbuster Chef’s Table.
Karol Gobczyński (SWE)Ingka group | IKEA
Head of Climate and Energy, Ingka group | IKEA (SWE)
Karol Gobczyński is Head of Climate and Energy at Ingka Group, which is the largest IKEA franchisee with 392 stores in 32 countries, responsible for 90 % of IKEA sales (!). IKEA has committed to become climate positive by 2030 and it is Karol's job to secure that the organisation meets its climate goals and co-creates climate positive IKEA.
At The Conference, Karol will talk about how net zero has become a powerful framework to align organisations and sectors in solving a system scale problem, and what we can we learn from this journey when it comes to other large-scale, systemic crisis.
Kristina Höök (SWE)Royal Institute of Technology
Professor of Interaction Design, Royal Institute of Technology (SWE)
Kristina Höök is a professor in Interaction Design at KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and also works part-time at RISE. She is known for her work on designing for bodily engagement in interaction through soma design, captured in her book ”Designing with the Body – Somaesthetic Interaction Design” (MIT Press).
Professor Höök proposes a qualitative shift in interaction design: from a predominantly symbolic, language-oriented stance, to an experiential, felt, aesthetic stance permeating the whole design and use cycle – an approach that will yield better products and create healthier, more sustainable companies.
Kristina has obtained numerous national and international grants, awards, and fellowships including the Cor Baayen Fellowship by ERCIM (European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics), the INGVAR award, she is an ACM Distinguished Scientist and elected ACM SIGCHI Academy. She is a horseback rider, mother, grandmother, and feminist.
Kyle McDonald (USA)Artist working with code
, Artist working with code (USA)
Kyle McDonald is an artist working with code. He crafts interactive installations, sneaky interventions, playful websites, workshops, and toolkits for other artists working with code. Exploring possibilities of new technologies: to understand how they affect society, to misuse them, and build alternative futures; aiming to share a laugh, spark curiosity, create confusion, and share spaces with magical vibes. Working with machine learning, computer vision, social and surveillance tech spanning commercial and arts spaces.
Kyle has been an adjunct professor at NYU's ITP, a member of F.A.T. Lab, the community manager for openFrameworks, and artist in residence at STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at CMU, as well as at YCAM in Japan. His work is commissioned by and shown at exhibitions and festivals around the world, including: the V&A, NTT ICC, Ars Electronica, Sonar, Todays Art, and Eyebeam.
Liam Young (USA)Director and Speculative Architect
Founder, Director and Speculative Architect (USA)
Liam Young is a speculative architect and director who operates in the spaces between design, fiction and futures. He is co-founder of Tomorrows Thoughts Today, an urban futures think tank, exploring the local and global implications of new technologies and Unknown Fields, a nomadic research studio that travels on expeditions to chronicle these emerging conditions as they occur on the ground.
Described by the BBC as ‘the man designing our futures’, his visionary films and speculative world designs for the entertainment industry are both extraordinary images of tomorrow and urgent examinations of the environmental questions facing us today. His fictional work is informed by his academic research and has held guest professorships at Princeton University, MIT, and Cambridge and now runs the groundbreaking Masters in Fiction and Entertainment at SCI Arc in Los Angeles.
Lucia Tahan (UK)Spark AR Studio, Meta
Product Designer, Spark AR Studio, Meta (UK)
Lucia Tahan is an architect and software designer specializing in Augmented Reality. Since 2018, her practice has been based in New York, Berlin and London. Currently, Lucia works as product designer for Meta, where she leads design for its Augmented Reality creation software Spark AR Studio.
In 2018 Lucia participated in the design of the Slovenian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, where her work was also exhibited in the Spanish Pavilion. In 2019, she was awarded the Housing the Human fellowship for research on the future of housing. Previously, she co-founded a startup incubated by the New Museum in New York. Her built work comprises two houses in Extremadura, Spain.
At The Conference, Lucia will join the Spatial Computing session.
Magnus Nilsson (SWE)Fäviken | MAD Academy | Food Planet Prize
Apple grower and Director, Fäviken | MAD Academy | Food Planet Prize (SWE)
With Fäviken, the internationally acclaimed, remote fine-dining restaurant in the heart of the Swedish forest, Magnus Nilsson made a name for himself through foraging, hunting, refining and caring for whatever ingredients to be found in the wilderness, a sometimes outright harsh environment. He’s been vocal about sustainability in the industry and after closing down Fäviken he’s been taking on multiple challenges to actively bring about positive change - both as the Academy Director of MAD Academy and as the co-chair of Food Planet Prize.
Magnus also runs an orchard in northern Skåne, a passion with a steep learning curve which has proven to be quite a challenge. At The Conference Magnus will share learnings from different stages of his career, a talk about endings and new beginnings.
Magnus Nilsson was featured in the very first season of Netflix's blockbuster show "Chef's table".
Matt Webb (UK)Writer and Product Head
Independent Consultant, Writer and Product Head (UK)
Matt Webb heads up product and design at an early stage startup building tools for virtual togetherness, and has a side gig editing a secret magazine about AI research.
Previously he ran startup accelerators with R/GA Ventures, co-founded the design studio BERG which invented some of the world’s first internet-connected consumer products (and has work in the New York MoMA), and built a tweeting bookshop in a vending machine. He co-authored Mind Hacks in 2004.
Matt writes about computing, design, and speculative futures, and has been blogging at interconnected.org since 2000. He lives in London.
At The Conference, Matt will consider how we use computers to find answers, and how we can go beyond the instant gratification of the search box.
Maya Indira Ganesh (UK)Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence
Maya Indira Ganesh
Cultural Scientist, Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (UK)
Maya Indira Ganesh is a cultural scientist whose work examines the social, cultural, and political dimensions of digital technologies including AI and autonomous vehicles. She is a Senior Research Fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, and Assistant Teaching Professor co-leading the Master's in AI, Ethics, and Society at the University of Cambridge, UK. She transitioned to academia after close to 15 years working on data/information politics, gender justice, and human rights in the Majority World. She lives between Berlin and Cambridge.
Maya Indira Ganesh will join us at The Conference to reflect on the politics of the sublime artificial intelligences and its metaphors. She will also discuss results from a study of the poetics and politics of AI metaphors from 13 countries.
Maya Man (USA)Artist
Programmer, Choreographer, Artist (USA)
Maya Man is an artist, programmer, and choreographer. She considers the computer screen a space for intimacy and performance, focusing on the phenomenon of translating our offline selves into on-screen content. Working primarily with custom software, her work takes the form of generative systems, websites, browser extensions, and installations.
She has exhibited internationally at spaces including Power Station of Art Shanghai, Vellum Los Angeles, SOOT Tokyo, Times Square, and Feral File online. Her work has been featured in Art in America, Forbes, Refinery29, Dance Magazine, and more.
Maya holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Computer Science and Media Studies from Pomona College. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Media Art at UCLA in Los Angeles, California.
Mikkel Malmberg (DEN)Independent Builder
Artist, Independent Builder (DEN)
Mikkel Malmberg is a multidisciplinary artist and independent builder. He builds platforms for creators and apps for advanced users. He makes art for the curious, writes a well-liked, too-far-between Danish newsletter called COMPUTERS, shoots the breeze on Twitter, and juggles three kids. After stumbling upon NFTs, Mikkel has been an important part of many popular projects including SlimHoods, Random Character Collective and Invisible Friends.
Nick Seaver (USA)Tufts University
Anthropologist of Technology, Tufts University (USA)
Nick Seaver is an anthropologist of technology who studies how technical experts think about cultural materials. He has published on topics ranging from the history of player pianos to the ethnography of algorithms. His forthcoming book, Computing Taste: Algorithms and the Makers of Music Recommendation, explores how the people who build music recommender systems make sense of music, listeners, and listening.
At The Conference, Nick will talk about what the anthropology of animal trapping can teach us about the design of algorithmic recommendation.
Nick is an assistant professor of Anthropology at Tufts University, where he also directs the program in Science, Technology, and Society. He is co-editor of Towards an Anthropology of Data (2021).
Penny Rafferty (GER)Writer and Critic
Artist, Writer and Critic (GER)
Penny Rafferty is a writer, critic and visual theorist based in Berlin working as an auditor and researcher at the crossroads of art, culture and technology. Departing from her research and thinking she has initiated and co-founded Black Swan, a proto-institution for interdisciplinary research and practice. She also co-developed the think tank series Artworld DAO’s and The Radical Friends Sumit (2019-2022) with Ruth Catlow and Ben Vickers, in coordination with Serpentine Galleries, Furtherfield, Haus Der Kunst Munich and Goethe Institute London. In 2022 she released the book “Radical Friends – Decentralised Autonomous Organisations and the Arts” with Catlow consolidating five years of research into a toolkit for fierce thinking and connectivity that moved beyond the established systems of centralised control in the art industry and wider financial networks through web 3 thinking.
Rita Fontinha (UK)Henley Business School, University of Reading
Associate Professor, Henley Business School, University of Reading (UK)
Rita Fontinha is an Associate Professor of Strategic Human Resource Management at Henley Business School, University of Reading.
Rita is a psychologist by training and her research interests include people’s quality of working life and its implications on individual and organisational performance. She has several research articles related to this subject.
Rita has currently been involved in research concerning flexible working practices, including the Four-Day Working Week, which she will talk about at The Conference.
Before joining Henley Business School, Rita was a Research Fellow at Portsmouth Business School. She has a Joint PhD from the University of Lisbon (Portugal) and the University of Leuven (Belgium). Prior to becoming a full-time researcher, she worked in HR management.
Simone Rebaudengo (SER)oio.studio
Co-founder, oio.studio (SER)
Simone Rebaudengo is a product and interaction designer and co-founder of oio, a creative company based in London and Belgrade, where he collaborates with companies such as Google, Ikea and the Dubai’s Museum of the Future. His works explore the implication of living and collaborating with other, not-so-human, intelligences.
He has published fables about more-than-human futures, created immersive installations about being an appliance with Bruce Sterling and a short movie that won the ”Most Uncanny award” at the Robot Film Festival (!). He is a faculty member of the Master in Design for Responsible AI at ELISAVA and his works have been awarded by Red Dot Design Award, Core77, Interaction Awards and exhibited in galleries and museums such as Vitra Design Museum, Triennial Museum in Milan and MAK Vienna.
Susanne Wedlich (GER)Author of Slime – A Natural History
Journalist, Author of Slime – A Natural History (GER)
”We are all creatures of slime, but some of us are more creative than others”.
Susanne Wedlich is the author of ”Slime. A Natural History” which recently was named a BBC Radio 4 ”book of the week”. She has studied biology and political science in Munich and has worked as a writer and freelance science journalist for renowned outlets like Der Spiegel and National Geographic.
Her fascination for slime dates back some 20 years to when she first heard a story about two snails in love. Ever since she’s been building up an extensive bank of knowledge around slime and its omnipresence, its cultural and emotional significance and its importance to life on earth. In many ways it is the material of life itself with superpowers beyond our wildest dreams. A specimen of the finest natural intelligence, ready for whatever challenge you may have – and harder than expected to reproduce artificially.
Tega Brain (USA)Artist & Environmental Engineer
Assistant professor NYU, Artist & Environmental Engineer (USA)
Tega Brain is an Australian-born artist and environmental engineer whose work examines issues of ecology, data systems and infrastructure. She has created wireless networks that respond to natural phenomena, systems for obfuscating fitness data, and an online smell-based dating service (!).
At The Conference Tega will talk about natural intelligence and why the environment is not a system. How does computational technologies shape ecological thought? And how could ecological thinking add to the perspectives offered by science and technology?
Tega is also an Assistant Professor of Integrated Digital Media, New York University and her work has been shown widely including in the Vienna Biennale for Change and the Guangzhou Triennial. Her first book, Code as Creative Medium, is co authored with Golan Levin and published with MIT Press.
Tessa van Soest (NL)B Lab
Tessa van Soest
Executive Director Benelux, B Lab (NL)
Tessa van Soest is the Executive Director Benelux at B Lab. She has many years of experience in sustainability roles, within various sectors. The last years Tessa worked as an interim professional leading a.o. programmes to embed the UN SDGs in the Dutch national context. Deeply convinced that the private sector should take the lead in creating the new inclusive regenerative economic system we all envision for future generations, Tessa joined B Lab, the organisation behind B Corp certification.
At The Conference, Tessa will talk about B Lab and its core service of B Corp certification. What is the story behind this increasingly popular standard and approach that drives a process of continuous improvement for businesses aspiring to become a force for good?
Next to her work at B Lab, Tessa is advisory board member for HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht - Master of Sustainable Business Transition and is fellow researcher at Nyenrode Business University, on the concept of nature rights in the Dutch context, aiming to develop a legal framework and approach that improves preservation of highly biodiverse ecosystems.
Vaughn Tan (UK)University College London’s School of Management
Assistant Professor, University College London’s School of Management (UK)
Vaughn Tan is a strategy professor, author, and consultant. For over a decade, his research and consulting work has focused on understanding uncertainty and designing organisations that can flourish in uncertainty. He is the author of The Uncertainty Mindset and idk, a training tool for productive discomfort.
Vaughn has a PhD from Harvard University and Harvard Business School and has been on the faculty in strategy and entrepreneurship at University College London’s School of Management since 2013. Previously, he worked in Google’s Product Team on Earth, Maps, Ads, spaceflight, and structured data infrastructure.
At The Conference, Vaughn will talk about How to organise innovation.
Victor Galaz (SWE)Stockholm Resilience Centre
Deputy Director, Stockholm Resilience Centre (SWE)
Victor Galaz is associate professor in political science and the deputy director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. His research focuses on financial systems, and their connection to large-scale environmental change with global non-linear climate repercussions.
In a session about models for systems thinking, Victor Galaz will elaborate on the Planetary boundaries concept for measuring human actions impact on the Earths systems – and enabling humanity to continue to develop and thrive for generations to come.