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The Future of Work: New geographies and temporalities of employment and welfare

29 October 2019 | 2pm – 6pm

Kensington, Lecture Theatre 1

A symposium at the Royal College of Art led by Autonomy UK with MA City Design and the Intergenerational Cities Research Stream.

Despite record levels of employment, real wages in the UK are at a historic low and ‘precarious’ work continues to expand its share of the labour market, while the majority of those currently in poverty in the UK belong to working families. 

Work is not serving its purpose – that of providing a sufficient income for people to live comfortable lives. This broken and unbalanced landscape of work, coupled with a punitive and inadequate welfare infrastructure, is coming up against the radical challenges facing many societies across the world: the climate crisis, an ageing population and a wave of technological disruption. 

These changes are already defining a new geography of human activity – one that urgently needs to be investigated.

This symposium brings together researchers from a wide range of disciplines to discuss their insight on the transformations in work, aiming to start a conversation about their consequences for the built environment and urban life. Together, we will reflect on the demands placed on territories, streets and homes –their design and production– by algorithmic management, coastal erosion, 4 day weeks and more.



Dr Tarsha Finney, Programme Lead MA City Design: Opening Remarks

Will Stronge and Julian Siravo: Presentation of Autonomy


Session I :Artificial Intelligence

Matt Cole – AI in and against work 

Phil Jones – Ambient Labour: the hidden workforce that puts the 'smart' in 'smart city'





Session II: Self employment and worker discipline 

Callum Cant – Riding for Deliveroo

Josh Gabert-Doyon – Towards a New Productivity

4.25–4.45pm – Discussion


Session III: Preparing for the future

4.45–5.05 pm 
Diann Bauer – We have to Rebuild Everything 

5.05– 5.25
Will Stronge – Crisis of work: new directions for welfare and redistribution 


Matt Cole is a researcher within the Work and Employment Relations Division of the Leeds University Business School (LUBS) working on the processes and politics of service work. He is the coordinator of the IIPPE Political Economy of Work Group and a member of the British Universities Industrial Relations Association. More recently his work has concentrated on Artificial Intelligence and its role in labour processes

Phil Jones is a research affiliate at Autonomy. His research looks at automation and labour flexibility. He is currently writing a book for Verso about AI and labour.

Callum Cant is a PhD student at the University of West London, where his project examines worker self-organisation in UK pubs, call centres and platforms. He has recently published Riding for Deliveroo, out in October 2019 with Polity Press. He is an editor of the workers’ inquiry journal Notes from Below. He writes about the class war at a range of publications and does occasional video with Novara Media.

Josh Gabert-Doyon is a writer, researcher and radio producer. His work on politics and urban planning have appeared on the BBC and Jacobin’s 'The Dig', as well as City Metric, Dazed and the Times Literary Supplement. He works with the think tank Common Wealth.

Diann Bauer is an artist and writer based in London. She is currently a researcher at Westminster University and a research affiliate at Autonomy. Bauer has collaborated with Laboria Cuboniks, with whom she collaboratively wrote and published Xenofeminism, A Politics for Alienation in 2015. ( and A.S.T. (the Alliance of the Southern Triangle), an interdisciplinary platform to broaden  with a focus on urbanism and climate change. She has screened and exhibited independently at Tate Britain, The ICA, The Showroom and FACT Liverpool, Deste Foundation, Athens, The New Museum, and Socrates sculpture park, New York and recently completed a project with Arts at CERN. She has taught and lectured widely at universities and cultural institutions including: Cornell University, Yale University, the New School and Cooper Union (US), HKW (Germany), ETH (Switzerland), DAI (Netherlands), Ashkal Alwan (Lebanon), The Tate and the ICA London.

Will Stronge is a researcher in Politics and Philosophy at the University of Brighton and an Associate Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Chichester. With Helen Hester, he is currently writing Post-work (Bloomsbury 2019).

Julian Siravo is an Architect and Urbanist from Rome, Italy and a graduate from the MA City Design at the RCA. He has spent time both in commercial and research-based architectural practices, as well as working independently in the practice he co-founded in 2015, Rowhill Studio. In his work Julian has explored automated construction, ideas of post-familial domesticity and socialised care-work. His research for Autonomy focuses on aging populations and the future of care, logistics and workspace.