Technology and the workplace are deeply intertwined – with computers, video conferencing, smartphones, and AI tools all playing their part in transforming the way we work in recent years.

But looking ahead, what could be the next evolution of technology and the workplace?

CEO Marissa Geist spoke to Neurable CEO and neural tech expert Dr. Ramses Alcaide to find out. Read the highlights of their discussion from episode 2 of the “The talent time machine” podcast to take a step into the future of work.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

How could your work with neural tech affect the way people work in the future?

Ramses: Our technology helps to increase the sensitivity of brain data. We take non-surgical devices – think of headphones, earbuds, glasses, or augmented reality (AR) systems – and we can put sensors on them that pick up brain data. We can use them for different applications, such as monitoring mental health, or even using them to control your devices, for example sending very simple text messages, or clicking on different objects.

Marissa: If I'm thinking, “I'd like to send Dr. Alcaide a text message: ‘Thanks for joining my podcast,’” would it pick something like that up?

Ramses: The type of sensors that we use are non-invasive, meaning non-surgical. We only pick up high-level information, not detailed words at this point. The messages that we can send are pre-scripted things that you know you want to send. But also, your brain actually has a different type of a block on whether you want to volitionally, or actively control something versus just thinking about it.

Marissa: So, the brain data looks different whether I'm thinking about it or actually doing it. I think a lot of people would be interested to know what’s intention versus doing, and why there's a block between the two.


“Will we one day have technology that helps us overcome motivational issues? I believe we will.”
– Dr. Ramses Alcaide


Is there a device that can help us overcome motivational blocks?

Ramses: Not yet, that’s a lot tougher to solve. But I think what's going to be fascinating about the tech we're building and how it plays into 2050 is that the brain is the one organ we don't track every day. And it's responsible for motivation, decision making, communication. Will we one day have technology that helps us overcome motivational issues? I believe we will.

But I think the important thing is we have to make sure that it's a person's choice. I'm a big believer in making sure people have a choice on how technology impacts them.

Looking to the future, how will your kind of work be applied day-to-day? Will it impact everyone, or will there be more selective and advanced purposes?

Ramses: We're seeing an evolution happening right now, with wearable devices. Previously, they were used for just audio. Now we're starting to see them evolve into devices for health, understanding mental health, understanding when you're fatiguing, prevention of other issues tied to that like depression.

Then, we're going to see them start to evolve into our future computers. Now, you use your phone for almost everything, but in the future, you're going to have AR glasses. It might be a pair of glasses that records your brain activity, for controlling things and for health monitoring, then also gives you an augmented reality to display information.

Long-term, we're going to see all this brain data lead to healthcare and life improvement. Take the Apple Watch. Apple realized “hey, this is what a heart attack looks like on our watch.” Now, the watch tells you if it senses something wrong with your heart. We're going to see the same with brain data, where a device might tell you you’re trending toward Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. We're going to see earlier treatments and diagnoses.

You're going to see a huge revolution in medicine, then in wellbeing, because of this technology becoming part of our everyday lives.


“We’re probably going back to more eye contact, more awareness, and more presence, because the technology isn’t in the way.”
– Marissa Geist


If you're a knowledge worker with a wearable for everything, will you even need to go to an office in the future?

Ramses: I think the role of offices has changed. Initially, offices existed because you needed a place to go work. But really, offices now are a place to build community. At our company, we find that a lot of the younger employees actually want offices, they want to make social groups.

I think offices are still going to happen, as the office environment is there for community for collaboration. You can brainstorm in augmented reality, but I don't think that's going to replace human brainstorming. Just like voice conference doesn't fully replace an in-person meeting.

Marissa: It's almost like we may go back in time. So, instead of everyone walking into a room and booting up their laptop or looking at their phones around the table, people might actually see each other again. We’re probably going back to more eye contact, more awareness, and more presence because the technology isn’t in the way.

How can people prepare for the future reality of technology and the workplace?

Ramses: People don’t even need to do much right now. I think the technology that's going to be successful is what happens transparently, without any additional steps. Even with the computer, it didn't really become mainstream until the mouse and keyboard came along and made it easy to use.

Eventually headphones and earbuds and AR will come out with neural tech in them, and you're going to buy them because they’re the best way to use the technology. I would just say be open to the initial learning curves that those are going to have.

I would also say don't be afraid but be open minded. There's a lot of good that we can do to the world with technology. But also make sure that you go with companies and technologies that respect your privacy.

Marissa: That's sound advice. There’s been a fear of technology been since the beginning of time, when people said that old books would replace the written verbal storytelling and they would make everyone antisocial. But with video games, for example, when my kids get on their headsets and talk to their friends, they're not being antisocial, they’re interacting with their environment with their friends, playing games together, collaborating. I can see that they prefer to learn that way versus reading a textbook, writing a paper. They’re learning how to work together as a team in a virtual setting. And it's like any kind of medium, it could be used for good or bad.

Do you have any other advice to people looking ahead to the future of technology and the workplace?

Ramses: I think that it’s a responsibility for companies to make sure that they respect privacy. And everyone who buys this technology should make conscious decisions about which companies they want to buy from, encouraging those that do want to respect privacy. The internet taught us a lot. It taught us that, if you don't put any barriers to individuals’ data, then it's going to be used. We have a real potential to prevent that from happening with brain data.

Marissa: So be respectful of your own data and be conscious of where it's going as these things progress.

Ramses: The emphasis should be making it easier to decline than to accept something. But also, I believe that in the future, we're going to start to see more companies being respectful as we have younger entrepreneurs entering the space. I think we're going to start to see better companies.

Neural tech is the beginning of something huge, so let's be open minded. Let's embrace it. There's a lot of good that can be done.