#MentalWork at SXSW

A brain-computer interface (BCI) researcher and an experimental philosopher discuss the relationship between mind and machine.

Photo © 2017 EPFL / Mental Work / Adrien Barakat. 

Event Details


101 Red River, Austin, Texas 78701 United States


March 14, 2018 from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm America/Chicago (UTC-05:00)

A brain-computer interface (BCI) researcher and an experimental philosopher discuss the relationship between mind and machine. They are the co-creators of the Mental Work exhibition, a global, public neuroscience research experiment where participants control industrial machinery using only thoughts and BCI technology.

swissnex San Francisco will host Mental Work: Moving Beyond Our Carbon-Based Minds, a conversation at the 2018 South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, to discuss how dismantling boundaries between art and science can help us imagine, understand and prepare for the transformational potential of BCI technology.

Mental Work is part of our ongoing examination of how human-machine interfaces are shaping the emergent future. Together with swissnex Boston, we’re bringing panels and experiences to SXSW to share a Swiss perspective on what comes next.

Follow the conversation using #mentalwork on Twitter.


Ricardo Chavarriaga

Ricardo Chavarriaga is a senior researcher at the Center of Neuroprosthetics of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland. He holds a PhD in computational neuroscience and has more than 100 scientific publications on brain-machine interfacing and neurotechnologies. His work focuses on understanding and decoding the neural mechanisms that govern cognitive processes such as error awareness, attention and decision making. His vision targets a future where this information can be used to allow artificial devices to adapt to their user’s goals, preferences and capabilities so as to establish a truly symbiotic relation between human and machines.

Jonathon Keats

Jonathon Keats, photo courtesy of the artistAcclaimed as a “poet of ideas” by The New Yorker and a “multimedia philosopher-prophet” by The Atlantic, Jonathon Keats is an artist, writer and experimental philosopher based in San Francisco and Northern Italy. His conceptually-driven interdisciplinary projects explore all aspects of society through science and technology. In recent years, he has installed a camera with a thousand-year-long exposure – documenting the long-term effects of climate change – at Arizona State University; opened a photosynthetic restaurant serving gourmet sunlight to plants at the Crocker Art Museum; exhibited extraterrestrial abstract artwork decoded from Arecibo Observatory radiotelescope data at the Judah L. Magnes Museum; and applied quantum mechanics to banking – coaxing money into a quantum superposition to be shared by everyone – at Rockefeller Center.


Sheila Fakurnejad

Sheila Fakurnejad photo by Astra Brinkmann for swissnex SFSheila Fakurnejad is the Interdisciplinary Programs Manager at swissnex San Francisco, Switzerland’s innovation outpost at Pier 17 in San Francisco. By drawing connections across industry and discipline, she has spearheaded public programs, exhibitions, and fellowship programs at the intersections of art-science and art-technology. Sheila develops and leads these initiatives to create open dialogue and more impactful relationships between science, society, and the broader issues facing us today, from topics ranging from the future of humanitarian aid to the Dada movement to science communication.

Switzerland @SXSW

Events, panels, music and interactive experiences are coming from Switzerland to SXSW this year.

Digital Fabrication: Will Robots Build the Future?
March 10, 12:30PM – 1:30PM, JW Marriott Salon E, 110 E 2nd St, Austin, TX

Decrypting the Universe: Science and Art at CERN
March 11, 5:00pm – 6:00pm, JW Marriott Salon E, 110 E 2nd St, Austin, TX

Breaking the 4th Wall: Drone Swarms in Art
March 12, 11:00am – 12:00pm, Austin Convention Center Room 6AB, 500 E Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX

Humanizing Autonomy
March 10, 3:30pm – 4:30pm, Fairmont Manchester CD, 101 Red River, Austin, TX

Photo © 2017 EPFL / Mental Work / Adrien Barakat.