We are fast becoming – or have already become – a generation of cyborgs. Our very desires, impulses and emotions are coded and constructed by complex sets of algorithms, AIs and big data sets to the point where even our ‘deepest’ feelings are inseparable from the logic of machines. This talk approaches the transformations in subjectivity heralded by new technology via a discussion of love. Are love and desire – essential aspects of social life – being transformed by technology? If so, what politics are these changes to our fundamental being serving?
Exploring dating apps, smart condoms, sex robots, AI dating, VR girlfriends, social media and dating simulators, Alfie Bown discusses how intersubjective relationships are mutating in the technocapitalist era. Using psychoanalysis to decode these changes, he asks whether this discourse is made redundant with the shift to computational understandings of our mind and emotions, or whether a revitalised psychoanalytic discourse can help navigate the technological future.
Alfie Bown teaches Digital Arts and Literature at Royal Holloway University London and Literature and Technology at the University of Manchester. He specialises in psychoanalysis, videogames and other digital media. His books include The Playstation Dreamworld (Polity, 2017) and In the Event of Laughter (Bloomsbury, 2018). He also writes journalism for The Guardian, The Paris Review and other places and is editor of Everyday Analysis.