Psychoanalysing AI

Desciphering the Internet’s Unconscious

Leo Cookman

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Given the current hysteria around AI (largely fomented by its owners and those who stand to gain from it) is it worth treating it with the seriousness it purports itself to need? Probably not, as most Ai is a dumb-as-rocks ‘if/when’ procedural script that draws from an unregulated pool of data and is not true intelligence as we understand it. Or at least not a complex form of intelligence.

The issue with human intelligence, or what it is that makes humans intelligent, is that it is so hard to define. It’s also not one thing, there are different kinds of intelligence such as cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence, pattern recognition, physical intelligence, spatial awareness, memory and recall, and so on. Consequently, Ai only addresses one or two of these forms of intelligence, and even those not very well. It draws from the ocean of data that is the internet but has no understanding of relevance, context or precision so it just regurgitates anything it finds based on the search words. Ironically, this does sound like a part of the human mind but not the higher cognitive functions. No, AI doesn’t behave like our conscious mind, it behaves a lot more like the subconscious.

When people use AI image programs such as midjourney a frequent comment below the picture is that they look “like dreams” or are “psychedelic” in appearance. Likewise, the experiments in screenplay writing and essays by text AI programs are so disjointed and illogical that they read as dream speak or the strange language people use while sleep walking. If we were to treat AI like we treat human intelligence then surely we would describe this kind of presentation as an example of the subconscious coming to the awareness of the conscious mind. But if it is the case that AI is exhibiting signs that it is a filter for the subconscious of the internet, is it not worth analysing, or even pathologising it, given the hysterical cries of our imminent death and destruction as a result of Ai?

What is the Subconscious?

In Psychoanalytic theory the subconscious is responsible for associations and our impulses that we might not be aware of. These develop throughout our lives as we observe and experience the world and the most impactful moments…

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Leo Cookman

Peripatetic Writer. “Time’s Lie” out now from Zero Books.