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Mental Work: Cognitive Revolution Symposium

Join us to explore the ethical, social, and security questions around the convergence of natural and artificial intelligence.

The Cognitive Revolution Symposium takes the Mental Work art-science exhibition as a starting point for reflection on the emergent future of human-machine interaction, focusing on promoting a culture of responsibility within the communities at the forefront of this revolution. 

Our lives have become increasingly intertwined with machines. Two decades ago, computers were limited to our desks. Smartphones have brought them into our hands, smartwatches onto our wrists, and smart speakers into our homes. Today, brain-computer interfaces (BCI) challenge us to consider an even more intimate interaction with machines: directly via brain activity. In combination with AI, this next step in computing creates a deepening convergence between natural and artificial intelligence.

BCI and other neurotechnologies hold the potential to revolutionize the treatment of many neurological conditions, enhance mental and physical abilities, and change the way we work. But the same advances could unintentionally increase social inequalities, and provide corporations, governments, hackers, and terrorists with novel ways to breach and manipulate people’s mental processes. The progress of the field puts into question our idea of individual agency, the sanctity of one’s private mental life, and other basic human attributes.

While it might take years for BCI and other neurotechnologies to gain widespread adoption, research in corporate and academic labs is accelerating quickly, and AI is already commonplace. Now is the time to develop ways to inspire reflection and exchange among scientists and engineers on the ethical and socially responsible use of their technologies, while addressing their inherent dual-use nature.

In this view, the symposium aims to convene experts from BCI research, AI, neuroscience, ethics, international security, policy, social science, human rights, education, design, and communication, with a twofold objective:

  • Identifying and prioritizing ethical, social, and security dilemmas around the Cognitive Revolution
  • Envisioning strategies to promote a culture of responsibility around those dilemmas


  • José del R. Millán, EPFL
  • Mary Lou Jepsen, Openwater
  • Marcello Ienca, ETH Zurich
  • Jodi Halpern, UC Berkeley
  • Philip Reiner, Tech4GS
  • Jean-Marc Rickli, GCSP
  • Harshita Arora, BCI Hacker
  • Michael Mitchell, Mental Work
  • Benjamin Bollmann, swissnex San Francisco 


09:00 — doors open
09.15 — gallery tour
09:30 — introduction
09:45 — scientific & technology trends
11:00 — break
11:15 — ethical & social implications
12:30 — lunch at Pier 17
13:30 — security implications
14:45 — toward formal & informal educational methods
14:45 — drinks at pier 17

Spaces are limited. Register your interest to attend here.

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swissnex San Francisco Pier 17, Suite 800, San Francisco, California 94111

Any questions?

Contact our staff, we can advise you.

+41 22 730 96 00

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