Call: Chapters for “Humanizing Artificial Intelligence. Psychoanalysis and the Problem of Control”

CALL FOR CHAPTERS for the edited book:
Humanizing Artificial Intelligence. Psychoanalysis and the Problem of Control
Publisher: De Gruyter

Submission deadline: October 30, 2021

Success in artificial intelligence (AI) would be the biggest event in human history…and perhaps also the last event in human history.” The words of Stuart Russell, one of the most important AI scientists, identify a crucial problem of our time: the control of AI. Alan Turing also stated, “If a machine can think, it might think more intelligently than we do, and then where should we be? […] This new danger is certainly something which can give us anxiety.” Investments in AI are quite significant around the world. Research is developing at an incredibly fast pace and in an ever less controllable manner. Building a human-like AI, or super-intelligent AGI (artificial general intelligence), is becoming a logical possibility and even a strategic asset. For this reason, expanding the debate on AI is of great importance. The future of humanity is tied to the future of AI and how humans will be able to integrate AI systems into their world. However, this poses a problem: as Russell says, “if we build machines to optimize objectives, the objectives we put into the machines have to match what we want, but we do not know how to define human objectives completely and correctly.”

The aim of Humanizing AI is to reflect on AI, starting from the second part of Russell’s last sentence. Human beings “put their goals in the machines,” which is exactly the problem. Humans want the machine to do what they want, “but we do not know how to define human objectives completely and correctly” and we often act in ways that are contrary to our own preferences. What are the human goals with respect to AI? How can we clarify them? What do we want from machines? Does an AI need to be able to recognize human unconscious dynamics to always act for the best of humans-that best that not even humans often know? This is the problem with the control of AI, “to design machines with high degree of intelligence-so they can help us with very difficult problems-while ensuring that those machines never behave in ways that make us seriously unhappy.”

This book intends to analyze the problem of control through a psychoanalytic methodology. The crucial question is: can psychoanalysis be the basis of a new method for controlling AI and a superintelligence explosion? Reflecting on AI means reflecting on the human psyche and personality, and therefore-from a psychoanalytic point of view-conceiving AI as a process of deconstruction and reconstruction of human identity, that is, a permanent dialectic of identification and de-identification. AI gives rise to processes of identification and de-identification that are not simply extensions of human identities-as post-humanist or trans-humanist approaches believe-but completely new forms of identification. Psychoanalysis-mainly due to the enormous influence it has had on social studies-provides us with very useful tools to study these processes, and to understand the role of AI in society and personal life.

Generally, psychoanalytic inquiry on AI can be performed in two ways. The first is to analyze how digital technology and AI influence the behavior of human agents by defining a new form of the unconscious. The second is to analyze how AI is affected by human behavior and unconscious dynamics. In both processes, which are connected, the imagination plays a key role, that is, how human beings imagine AI and the meanings they give to it. Moreover, exploring AI through the lenses of psychoanalysis implies restoring an ancient connection: one of the pioneers of AI, Marvin Minsky, claimed that Freud was “the first good AI theorist.”

Humanizing AI is intended to be an important and interdisciplinary contribution to the social sciences applied to AI. It is aimed at a broad audience: to undergraduates, postgraduates, and teachers in sociology, social theory, science and technology studies, cultural studies, philosophy, social psychology, and international relations. It will also appeal to programmers, software designers, students, and professionals in the sciences.


Length: about 4,000 words

Deadline for Submissions: October 30, 2021

Please ensure your paper is prepared for the blind review

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[More about Luca Possati:]

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