Why do we dream?
Apparently AI reached the level of complexity where it is not
capable of explaining every underlying reason for its actions. What
does that remind us of? Intuition, I guess. Or, in the language of
my field, the Unconsciousness. And what might the Unconsciousness
be? Without going into psychodynamical theories it seems safe to
suggest that a purely conscious apparatus would be overwhelmed with
processing our extraordinarily complex environment. So, certain
information must be handled in a second, unconscious, entity.
Now, I am willing to assume that our dreams do come exactly from
this second layer of our mental apparatus. Does it mean that there
is a chance that a complex AI would dream? Dreaming as a byproduct
of processing a complex environment? Maybe.
Still, cautiousness seems sensible when comparing computers’
artificial intelligence with man’s brains. As Robert Epstein pointed
out recently in his article „The empty brain“ in the Aeon magazine,
our understanding of our intelligence alters its analogies depending
on the developments of our Zeitgeist. Neither the hydraulic metaphor
of ancient times, the electricity metaphor of the 1800, nor the
comparison with computers in our time are capable of describing our
brain’s intelligence properly.
Usually Artificial Intelligence has a goal which its capabilities
are directed to. It manages to find unique ways of dealing with its
task, but it is still bound to the goal; a teleological machine. Is
this valid for us humans as well? What is our goal? Survival? Of the
fittest (meaning procreation)? Are all our capabilities designed to
master our extraordinarily complex environment to survive?
Evolutionary theory might suggest so, but our cultural
accomplishments give us hope that our intelligence is indeed not
Dr. Oliver Pintsov, 6 June 2017
Psychiatrie & Psychotherapie FMH