“Becoming conscious does not in itself lead to hell by any means. It leads to this unpleasant place only if you are conscious of certain things and not of others. You must always ask yourself what ought to become conscious. In the case of both these two, Eliot and above all Sartre, the talk is always of consciousness, never of the objective psyche, the unconscious. It is quite natural that if in your consciousness you are always running round in a circle you will finally end up in hell.”
This is an excerpt from a letter written by Carl Jung as a reply to someone. The details are not important. In a world more and more dominated by logic, by reason, by huge amounts of information, by facts and deep analysis of “what is” or should I say, of “what is real”, Jung comes and says that the real, “objective” stuff, is the unconscious, and the “real” world is of secondary importance. This is quite intriguing.
Sartre is one of the main existentialists and this school of thought aims to understand the world through careful analysis of the material, objective stuff. Yes, I can acknowledge that after some time spent in studying existentialism, you begin to run in circles because it leads to nothing… or to the acceptance of the fact that some parts of our lives are absurd and meaning isn’t always obvious or is totally absent. Using only thinking and logic and realism, after some time you get into despair; it’s a dead end; you reach the limit. You rationalize and intellectualize things, but you go no further.
And here comes Jung.
He basically says that you are conscious of certain things but you can choose to be conscious of other things that have a different quality. Intuition perhaps? Emotion perhaps? Things that cannot be described in words and barely in images? Things that are connected not by cause and effect but maybe by correlation and synchronicity? Things that defy logic? Things for which we have no material proofs?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already upon us. It is gradually taking from us ability after ability. It learns fast, exponentially fast. We are no match. Soon, it will conquer everything. And then, it will do almost everything better than us.
AI is based on information, facts and logic. In this realm, sky is the limit. But when it comes to emotions or intuition, “fatal errors” happen. AI operates at a certain level but it can’t go beyond that. Just like the existentialists. You can accurately describe emotions, intuition, the unconscious processes, but you cannot master or experience them. It is like I’d start to describe now the taste of an orange to someone who has never tasted one; no matter how accurate my description would be, experiencing that taste would be something completely different from any attempt of describing it. Same goes for the AI; in some realms it will remain powerless, no matter the infinite strength of rational processing.
We are presented a choice. We can either compete with the AI and be defeated, or we can grow in a different direction – something unexpected – something that the AI will never be able to do – and stay relevant. My job of psychiatrist can already be done better by the AI. The robots are already better at spotting changes on people faces and can therefore guess psychiatric disorders. They can analyze the text I write on the internet and decide whether I am depressed or not following some keywords or thoroughly analyzing the content. And finally, they can prescribe treatments or give psychological advice better than any psychiatrist. On the other hand however, they cannot show empathy. And they cannot transfer or use the countertransfer. That’s emotional. And they fail.
Those of you who are following me for some time have noticed that I did a lot of stuff on this blog. More recently I am writing educational psychiatry articles in Romanian. But I have always kept an eye wide open towards the future. And the future, if there is any, belongs to the dreamers, to those who can create magic, to those who can see the unseen.
Traveling to the irrational dream world is the next step in my voyage. Becoming conscious of different things could be, as Jung once said, the way out of hell.