Mental Work

The Cognitive Revolution has arrived.

Photo by Astra Brinkmann for swissnex SF.

Event Details


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


May 17, 2018 7:00 am - July 29, 2018 4:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)



Employing a revolutionary technology developed at EPFL, Mental Work is the first showroom in the world to be operated exclusively by workers’ minds, juxtaposing the industrial revolution against the possibly imminent cognitive revolution — a symbiosis of human ­and machine.

By directly controlling the machinery with their brainwaves, workers simultaneously become the labor and the product, psychologically decoupling themselves from their bodies, past experiences, and pre-conceived ideas about the future: the first factory to mass produce philosophers. 

At Mental Work, participants are invited to join the cognitive revolution through a guided, 60-minute experience, where they will move industrial machinery only using BCI technology and their thoughts. This factory of the future creates a platform where the public can examine how dismantling boundaries between art and science can help us imagine, understand, and prepare for the transformational potential of BCI technology.

Registration is required to see the Mental Work showroom. Book your private 60-minute guided experience at

Mental Work was born through a collaboration between EPFL neuroscientist José Millán, San Francisco-based artist Jonathon Keats, and London-based curator Michael Mitchell. Graphic design elements by Joël Boucheteil.


Opening Highlights


For instructions on how to register for your 60-minute Mental Work trial, see The experience accommodates up to two people at a time — you may coordinate a time slot with a partner, but please register individually.

Open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 1-6pm; Thursday 1-8pm.

Related Events

March 14 — Mental Work at the SXSW Conference
May 17 — Mental Work: Opening reception
May 19 — The Cognitive Revolution Symposium
July 17 — SciComm Studio 008: Empathy vs. the Machines
July 23 — Mental Work: Art as a Trojan Horse
July 25 — NeuroNight: Cocktails & Connectomes

Additional events to be announced. 


The swissnex San Francisco edition of Mental Work is made possible thanks to the generosity of the Bertarelli Foundation, which tackles some the biggest challenges in neuroscience and marine conservation. Based in Switzerland, it supports research at Harvard Medical School and Campus Biotech, a neuroscience center in Geneva established by the Bertarelli family, the Wyss Foundation, the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), and the University of Geneva. Part of the Swiss Touch campaign, Mental Work receives additional support from Wearable Sensing and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

Mental Work

Event Photos