1st Edition

Unconscious Networks Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and Artificial Intelligence

By Luca M. Possati Copyright 2023

    This book develops an original theoretical framework for understanding human-technology relations. The author’s approach, which he calls technoanalysis, analyzes artificial intelligence based on Freudian psychoanalysis, biosemiotics, and Latour’s actor-network theory.

    How can we communicate with AI to determine shared values and objectives? And what, ultimately, do we want from machines? These are crucial questions in our world, where the influence of AI-based technologies is rapidly growing. Unconscious dynamics influence AI and digital technology and understanding them is essential to better controlling AI systems. This book’s unique methodology— which combines psychoanalysis, biosemiotics, and actor-network theory—reveals a radical reformulation of the problem of the human mind. Technoanalysis views the mind as a hybrid network of humans and nonhuman actants in constant interaction with one another. The author argues that human unconscious dynamics influence and shape technology, just as technology influences and shapes human unconscious dynamics. He proceeds to show how this conception of the relationship between the unconscious and technology can be applied to social robotics and AI.

    Unconscious Networks will appeal to scholars and advanced students interested in philosophy of technology, philosophy of artificial intelligence, psychoanalysis, and science and technology studies.



    1. To Take Freud Seriously: Psychoanalysis as Natural Science

    2. Reassembling the Mind: Psychoanalysis and Actor-Network Theory

    3. Mediation and Anti-Mediation: Google Glass, the Metaverse, and Social Robotics

    4. Looking through Replika: How to Psychoanalyze an AI Chatbot

    5. From Turing to Peirce: A Semiotic Re-Interpretation of Computation

    6. AI, Psychoanalysis, and the Critique of Identity

    7. Cybernetic Derrida: The Différance and the Constitution of the Digital Object

    Conclusions: A Planetary Negotiation


    Luca M. Possati is researcher and lecturer at the Institute of Philosophy, University of Porto, Portugal. He is the author of many books, including Software as Hermeneutics: A Philosophical and Historical Study (2022) and The Algorithmic Unconscious: How Psychoanalysis Helps in Understanding AI (Routledge, 2021).

    "Unconscious Networks is an ambitious and original contribution to both psychoanalysis and (philosophy of) artificial intelligence. Possati argues that we should return to a Freud initial view that psychoanalysis is part of the natural sciences. This is an original move and not only throws an interesting light on a somewhat forgotten (or surpressed) dimension of psychoanalysis, but it also enables Possati to establish a different connection between psychoanalysis and AI, especially by using Deacon as a biosemiotics link between those two domains. I expect Unconscious Networks will also receive praise because of its innovative new approach to the connection of psychoanalysis and AI, both from the domain of psychoanalysis and of AI research."

    Jos de Mul, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands