Looking at Freud, Uncanny, and Modern Technology
How might we draw on the ideas of Freud’s and others to not just understand what it is about technology that creeps us out, but why we, as a species, have developed such technologies in the first place? Are they representations of our own deepest wishes or the potential result of our deepest fears? Freud's essay, "The Uncanny" was published just over 100 years ago and theFreud Museum Londonhas been celebrating its centenary. Dr. Balick will debut his talk on the uncanny of technology there on January 16th. He will be bringing a variation of this talk to Stillpoint Spaces Berlin at the end of the month for further exploration and discussion.
In his essay, Freud explores the meaning of the words ‘Heimlich’ (homey) and ‘Unheimlich’ (un-homey). While German psychiatrist Ernst Jentsch has described the ´Unheimlich´as frightening, mainly because it is new and not known, Freud plays with the etymology of the word further and suggests that it is at the same time homey and familiar but also hidden and private. As he writes, "uncanny proceeds from something familiar which has been repressed." In the second part of the essay, he offers interpretations of the feeling of uncanny in artworks and everyday life, reflecting on the topics of castration, dolls, the double (Der Doppelganger), involuntary repetition, and others.
Thus, for Freud, the elusive feeling of uncanniness is related to things that feel slightly off - associated with thoughts or feelings repressed in the human unconscious. When it comes to technology, maybe the thing that creeps us out most is a very near future in which artificial intelligence may be indistinguishable from human relationships. Whatever it is, most of us will find ourselves in technology’s “uncanny valley” whether we like it or not.
Join us for a glass of wine and snacks from 18 to 19h. The lecture will start at 19h and will be followed by a Q&A session.
Aaron Balick is a psychotherapist, supervisor, international speaker, and author. He has written several books for different audiences that apply contemporary psychological thinking to contemporary life. He is a founding member and former executive chair of The Relational School, a professional organisation that seeks to deepen and broaden Relational and Intersubjective Theory in psychotherapeutic practice. His main interest is applying ideas from psychoanalysis to contemporary life, especially technology. He is the author of The Psychodynamics of Social Networking: Connected-up Instantaneous Culture and the Self. Dr. Balick is the director ofStillpoint Spaces London.
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