[Debate] The Future of Work: with robots & basic income, will work become play?

  • 19/11/2019
  • 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM
  • Espace Lumen, Chaussée de Boondael 32-36, 1050 Ixelles


  • Free: salon tickets included in annual membership fee
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Debate / Tue 19 Nov / 6:30 - 9:30 PM

Technology has disrupted the way we live and work. The reality of a changing job market pushes us to rethink our very idea of work. Do we work for necessity, duty, habit, identity or fulfilment?

Robotisation and AI advance apace and old ideas such a Universal Basic Income are now regaining a new life. In a not so distant future we might all be recipients of a basic income, while a robot does the work we used to do. How will these transformations affect the way we understand, value and do work?

In changing the conventional job market and allowing people potentially to take up more creative endeavours, will they benefit society and improve work-life balance, or act to its detriment in harming economic productivity? And if work becomes a choice rather than a necessity, how will we find meaning in our lives and fill our days if we need to work less, or not at all?




Professor Josh Cohen is an academic, practising psychoanalyst, and writer.

Cohen is a prolific writer, and his latest book, Not Working: Why we have to stop (2019), radically rethinks our obsession of constant work and seek to live a more fulfilled existence through inactivity. Exploring exhaustion through both literary portrayals and the real burned-out patients he meets in his practice, he investigates the interactions between psychoanalysis, literature and philosophy – and how they all can improve society.


Dr Margaret Heffernan is an international businesswoman, an entrepreneur, Chief Executive and best-selling author. She was born in Texas, raised in Holland and educated at Cambridge University.

The author of five books, Margaret's third book, Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril was named one of the most important business books of the decade by the Financial Times. In 2015, she was awarded the Transmission Prize for A Bigger Prize: Why Competition isn't Everything and How We Do Better, described as "meticulously researched…engagingly written…universally relevant and hard to fault."

Over nine million people have watched her popular TED talks, and in 2015 TED published Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes.


Dr Aaron Bastani is a political commentator, senior editor, author, and social media influencer. He regularly appears on television in political debates, and holds a strong social media presence online.

He is one of the co-founders of Novara Media, a radical left-wing news website. This started with a podcast by Bastani in 2011 and is now an independent media organisation, providing an alternative information platform to the traditional media channels for 10,000 regular visitors. Bastani is now the Senior Editor and Digital Officer at Novara Media.


Alison Tate is the Director of Economic and Social Policy of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

The ITUC is the global peak body of labour unions and represents 210 million workers in 165 countries. Alison’s current role includes representing unions at the United Nations, the G20 and international financial institutions.



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