As a futurist and educator, I’m always studying emerging trends to help my students adapt to a future where most routine work will be replaced by robots, software automation, and artificial intelligence.
One of the best ways I’ve discovered to get a sneak peek of what’s coming is by attending conferences and listening to talks from leading thinkers, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals who are on the frontiers of re-shaping the world.
If you want to be prepared for the tsunami of changes in the next decade that are poised to transform the way we live, work, and learn then learning from people on the cutting edge of knowledge and innovation is crucial.
Attending conferences is a powerful way to learn from these people but the reality is conferences are expensive and it takes a lot of time out of your schedule.
So, why not virtually attend the world’s most interesting conferences?
That’s what this guide will help you do. Fortunately, many of the world’s conferences are now putting their best talks online.
Build A Learning Ritual:
Once a month, I have a learning ritual where I dedicate at least 3-4 hours to watch and discuss conference talks with a group of close friends.
We each choose 2 talks to watch and our discussions have helped inspire many new ideas and collaborations. Along the way, we’ve discovered many great conferences full of speakers on the cutting edge of creativity and innovation.
I recommend dedicating a few hours to watching some of these inspiring talks with some close friends or family and seeing what kind of discussions they spark.
To attend all the conferences that I’ve listed in this guide, it would cost you roughly $50,190.
1. Future Frontiers (Formerly Voice & Exit)
Next Conference: Spring 2019
Location: Austin, Texas
If Burning Man and TED had a baby, it would be Future Frontiers. I love that quote on their website. This conference bills itself as a forum for visionary entrepreneurs and social creators designing the future.
Future Frontiers is an annual gathering of radical entrepreneurs who want to make a huge impact in the world. The short, TED-style talks are fun and engaging and full of moonshot ideas.
Watch the talks from the last Voice and Exit Conference:
More: Voice and Exit YouTube
2. Wisdom 2.0 Summit
Next Conference: March 1st-3rd, 2019
Location: San Francisco, California
Wisdom 2.0 addresses the great challenge of our age: to not only live connected to one another through technology but to do so in ways that are beneficial to our own well-being and useful to the world.
Through a series of conferences, discussions, and workshops, Wisdom 2.0 strives to bring this conversation to the world in an accessible, innovative, and inclusive way. Their conference is a “who’s who” of leading neuroscientists and spiritual teachers.
Watch the talks from the last Wisdom 2.0 Conference:
More Conference Videos: Wisdom 2.0 on YouTube
3. SXSW Interactive
Next Conference: March 9th-18th, 2018
Location: Austin, Texas
The South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival offers the unique convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies. With a mission to foster creative growth for artists and technology professionals, SXSW is a premier destination for understanding emerging trends.
This is one conference that I make the effort to attend each year. I love the city of Austin and how this conference attracts so many creative people at the forefront of digital media and technological innovation. The atmosphere is much more friendly and music festival-like than most other conferences I’ve attended.
Watch the talks from SXSW Interactive 2018:
More: SXSW Interactive on YouTube
4. Science and Non-Duality Conference
Next Conference: July 2nd – July 8th, 2019
Location: Orvieto, Italy
The Science and Nonduality Conference provides a forum where pre-eminent scientists, philosophers, teachers, artists, and an international community can gather to explore and advance new paradigms emerging in science and spirituality.
The conference is grounded in cutting-edge science but also consistent with the ancient wisdom of non-duality — the deep understanding of the interconnectedness of life.
Watch the talks at the last Science and Non-Duality Conference:
More: Science and Non-Duality on YouTube
5. Aspen Ideas Festival
Next Conference: June 20th – 29th, 2019
Location: Aspen, Colorado
The Aspen Ideas Festival is billed as the nation’s premier gathering place for leaders from around the globe and across many disciplines to engage in deep and inquisitive discussion of the ideas and issues that both shape our lives and challenge our times.
The Aspen Institute produces the festival in concert with its partner, The Atlantic. The mission of the festival is to bring together some of the foremost thinkers in the world today with civically-minded leaders in business, the arts, politics, and philanthropy to share ideas and questions and drive thought to action.
Watch the talks from the last Aspen Ideas Festival:
More: Aspen Ideas Festival on YouTube
6. The Milken Institute Global Conference
Next Conference: April 29th – May 2nd, 2019
Location: Los Angeles, California
As one of the United States’ largest non-profit economic think tanks, the Milken Institute’s Global Conference brings together world-renowned economists, industry experts, and scholars to analyze the issues and choices facing policymakers.
The speakers at this conference talk about how emerging technology is creating new economic opportunities and how capital markets can help solve urgent social and economic challenges and improve lives.
Watch the talks from the last Milken Institute Conference:
More: The Milken Institute on YouTube
7. TED Conference
Next Conference: April 15-19, 2019
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
TED is a non-profit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment, and Design converged.
All of their talks are freely posted online in what has become a clearinghouse of free knowledge from many of the world’s most inspired thinkers. Additionally, there are 1,000s of talks that are hosted by community-run TEDx events around the world.
Watch the top 10 most popular talks from a recent TED Conference:
More: The Most Popular TED Talks Of All Time
8. World Economic Forum
Tickets: $19,000 (plus a WEF annual membership for $52,000!)
Next Conference: January 22nd – 25th, 2019
Location: Davos, Switzerland
The World Economic Forum is an international institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation. It is considered the preeminent gathering of the world’s technocratic elite and many government policies are shaped by discussion held here.
The conference engages politicians, business leaders, academics and other leaders of society in collaborative efforts to shape global, regional and industry agendas. If you want to understand the future direction of the world, you can learn from many of the leaders shaping it at the World Economic Forum.
Watch the talks form WEF 2018 IdeasLab:
More: World Economic Forum on YouTube
9. Media Evolution Conference
Next Conference: September 4th – 5th, 2019
Location: Malmö, Sweden
Every year a 1,000 participants and amazing speakers from all over the world gather in Malmö, Sweden to share their insights on human behavior, new technologies and the execution of ideas.
The Media Evolution Conference is Scandinavia’s most important conference and it attracts business executives and creatives working with communication, design, planning, and programming.
Watch the talks from last year’s Media Evolution Conference:
More: The Media Evolution Conference Talks
10. Digital Life Design
Next Conference: January 19-21, 2019
Location: Munich, Germany
DLD (Digital-Life-Design) is a global network of innovation, digitization, science and culture which connects business, creative leaders, and influencers for crossover conversation and inspiration.
This annual conference brings together European’s technology industry and the most influential opinion-makers, industry leaders, startups and digital giants to Munich.
What other interesting conferences have you attended or found online that have their talks streaming online?
Feel free to share them with our community in the comments.