Secret Agents: A Psychoanalytic Critique of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Clemens Apprich*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Other contributionAcademic


“Good Old-Fashioned Artificial Intelligence” (GOFAI), which was based on a symbolic information-processing model of the mind, has been superseded by neural-network models to describe and create intelligence. Rather than a symbolic representation of the world, the idea is to mimic the structure of the brain in electronic form, whereby artificial neurons draw their own connections during a self-learning process. Critiquing such a brain physiological model, the following article takes up the idea of a “psychoanalysis of things” and applies it to artificial intelligence and machine learning. This approach may help to reveal some of the hidden layers within the current A. I. debate and hints towards a central mechanism in the psycho-economy of our socio-technological world: The question of “Who speaks?”, central for the analysis of paranoia, becomes paramount at a time, when algorithms, in the form of artificial neural networks, operate more and more as secret agents.
Original languageEnglish
Typeonline article
Media of outputDigital Culture & society
PublisherDe Gruyter
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 27-Oct-2018
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameDigital Culture & Society

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