Will AI Simulate the Subconscious Mind?

Your sub­con­scious mind is the actu­al play­er, which is con­trol­ling you from behind the scenes. It  is the part of our mind that makes deci­sions with­out our hav­ing to active­ly think about them.

Arti­fi­cial Intelligence(AI), giv­en prop­er time­line of evo­lu­tion and the right algo­rithms, might sim­u­late a strong enough ver­sion of the sub­con­scious mind.

Conscious, Subconscious and Unconscious Mind

The con­scious mind involves all of the things that you are cur­rent­ly aware of and think­ing about. This aspect of mind is some­what akin to short-term mem­o­ry and is lim­it­ed in terms of capac­i­ty. For exam­ple, our aware­ness of our­selves and the world around us are part of our consciousness.

Unlike the con­scious mind, the sub­con­scious is that part of the con­scious­ness that is not cur­rent­ly in focal aware­ness. An exam­ple of the sub­con­scious activ­i­ty is the part of the mind that cre­ates dreams. Like dreams, sub­con­scious activ­i­ty occurs in the mind with­out con­scious per­cep­tion, or with only slight per­cep­tion, on the part of the indi­vid­ual.

The uncon­scious mind involves the process­es in the mind that occur auto­mat­i­cal­ly and are not avail­able to intro­spec­tion, and include thought process­es, mem­o­ry, affect, and motivation.

The uncon­scious mind dwells out­side of our con­scious aware­ness. It is a reser­voir of feel­ings, thoughts, urges, and mem­o­ries. Cog­ni­tive psy­chol­o­gists say that the uncon­scious mind con­tains data that are unac­cept­able or unpleas­ant, such as feel­ings of pain, anx­i­ety, or conflict.

Sig­mund Freud (May 6, 1856 — Sep­tem­ber 23, 1939), Aus­tri­an neu­rol­o­gist and the founder of psy­cho­analy­sis, believed that the uncon­scious mind stores all the thoughts, mem­o­ries, and feel­ings that are dis­turb­ing or trau­mat­ic. Freud pop­u­lar­ized the term ‘uncon­scious’ when he devel­oped psy­cho­analy­sis. Psy­cho­analy­sis is a form of ther­a­py devel­oped by Freud to treat emo­tion­al problems.

Related Readings:

Freud empha­sized the impor­tance of the uncon­scious mind, and a pri­ma­ry assump­tion of Freudi­an the­o­ry is that the uncon­scious mind gov­erns behav­ior to a greater degree than peo­ple sus­pect. Indeed, the goal of psy­cho­analy­sis is to make the uncon­scious conscious.

Although Freud gave more empha­sis to describe the uncon­scious mind, mod­ern notions of the sub­con­scious were also invent­ed by him as part of his now-dis­cred­it­ed the­o­ry of psy­cho­analy­sis. Accord­ing to Freud, 90% of the human mind is the sub­con­scious, full of invol­un­tary thoughts and behaviors.

Mind Researches since 20th Century to the Present [in Brief]

Famous ana­lyt­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist and psy­chi­a­trist Carl Jung, who was an ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry psy­chother­a­pist and psy­chi­a­trist, cre­at­ed the field of ana­lyt­i­cal psy­chol­o­gy. He the­o­rized that when we dream, we tap into a “col­lec­tive uncon­scious” and devel­oped arche­types for the sym­bols that com­mon­ly occur in dreams.

Relat­ed Arti­cleIs our col­lec­tive con­scious­ness dif­fer­ent from the con­scious­ness of each individual?

In 1953, a young Ph.D. stu­dent Eugene Aserin­sky in U.S. dis­cov­ered rapid eye move­ment (REM) sleep. Dur­ing REM sleep the brain is extreme­ly active and pro­duces dream.

In the 1990s, neu­ro­sci­en­tist Melvyn Goodale began to study peo­ple with a con­di­tion called visu­al form agnosia. Such indi­vid­u­als can­not con­scious­ly see the shape or ori­en­ta­tion of objects, yet act as though they can. 

Sci­en­tists have also start­ed to test ways of detect­ing con­scious­ness with­out the need to give peo­ple ver­bal instruc­tions. In a series of stud­ies that began in 2013, neu­ro­sci­en­tist Mar­cel­lo Mas­si­mi­ni at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Milan and his col­leagues have used tran­scra­nial mag­net­ic stim­u­la­tion (TMS) to cre­ate elec­tri­cal ‘echoes’ in the brain that can be record­ed using EEG.

In a 2017 sleep study, researchers roused peo­ple through­out the night while mon­i­tor­ing them with EEG4. Around 30% of the time, par­tic­i­pants who were jolt­ed from sleep report­ed not expe­ri­enc­ing any­thing just before they woke up. The study showed that those peo­ple with­out con­scious expe­ri­ences dur­ing sleep had lots of low-fre­quen­cy activ­i­ty in the pos­te­ri­or-cor­ti­cal region of their brains before waking.

In a 2019 study that col­lect­ed fMRI data from 159 peo­ple, researchers found that, com­pared with peo­ple in min­i­mal­ly con­scious states and those under anes­the­sia, the brains of healthy indi­vid­u­als had more com­plex pat­terns of coor­di­nat­ed sig­nal­ing that also changed con­stant­ly.

Researchers and sci­en­tists have focused on unveil­ing secret mind func­tions since long. On the same foun­da­tion, I am pre­sent­ing the con­cept of sim­u­lat­ing the sub­con­scious mind with the help of Arti­fi­cial Intelligence.

Simulation of the subconscious mind

Sim­u­la­tion of the sub­con­scious mind would have all the same algo­rith­mic strengths and weak­ness­es as your own sub­con­scious mind. And, a very strong AI sys­tem will be able to see things that you aren’t able to see about your­self.

As I have afore­men­tioned, the unconscious/subconscious minds are unimag­in­ably com­plex, but what we are say­ing here is that there is a pos­si­bil­i­ty of build­ing an AI algo­rithm that could sim­u­late the process of a sub­con­scious mind.

But, before we jump into the point, we need to con­sid­er few more impor­tant points about the com­plex­i­ty of our brain.

DALL E 2 is cur­rent­ly hot and shak­ing the tech world with its abil­i­ty to con­vert any thoughts into image. This is a glimpse of the future we are going to enter. While DALL E 2 takes your text and con­verts it into art/design, DALL E 10 would be able to actu­al­ly design your sub­con­scious brain. By the time we reach DALL E 20 or some­thing equiv­a­lent to that, AI will be able to sim­u­late the sub­con­scious brain.

It’s really difficult to simulate our subconscious mind

Our sub­con­scious mind is our most pow­er­ful tool. It is the part of our mind that makes deci­sions with­out our think­ing about it at all.

Our sub­con­scious mind sees, hears and feels things we are not able to see, hear or feel due to lim­it­ed amount of atten­tion span. It decides how we feel and what we do with­out us con­scious­ly think­ing about it.

We know that decod­ing human behav­ior is an extreme­ly dif­fi­cult prob­lem in the field of AI research. As any data sci­en­tist can tell you, the process of under­stand­ing behav­ior and pre­dict­ing future actions is a very chal­leng­ing one, requir­ing high pre­ci­sion in order to pro­duce accu­rate results.

The nature of our sub­con­scious mind has been inves­ti­gat­ed by sci­en­tists for hun­dreds of years. The goal is to help us under­stand and con­trol our own un/subconscious behav­iors. But, it seems that our sub­con­scious mind is not so eas­i­ly under­stood as the HISTORIES of psy­cho­analy­sis — Fraud, Jung, Aserin­sky, Goodale and Mas­si­mi­ni — could not get any­where close to the total­i­ty of the most com­plex part of the human existence.

More­over, con­scious­ness in humans is often mis­un­der­stood as being some­thing sep­a­rate from the brain process­es we expe­ri­ence to pro­duce thoughts, feel­ings, and behaviors.

But, the con­scious­ness is a part of the brain itself — the brain’s phys­i­cal struc­ture and neur­al activ­i­ty may affect con­scious­ness. But they do not amount to a kind of human con­scious­ness that exists inde­pen­dent­ly from the phys­i­cal brain.

The Process of Human Learning and Memory

The process of human learn­ing is divid­ed into two main cat­e­gories: con­sol­i­da­tion and stor­age. Con­sol­i­da­tion refers to the sta­bi­liz­ing of new­ly-formed con­nec­tions or mem­o­ries while they are being stored in the brain. Stor­age refers to how new infor­ma­tion is trans­lat­ed from short-term to long-term mem­o­ry .

The brain stores mem­o­ries through a del­i­cate bal­ance of orga­ni­za­tion and flex­i­bil­i­ty. It can store new mem­o­ries effi­cient­ly because the con­nec­tions between neu­rons are strength­ened with use (an idea known as synap­tic plas­tic­i­ty). But at the same time it can also eas­i­ly reor­ga­nize its con­nec­tions when nec­es­sary (known as neu­ronal pruning).

As a neur­al net­work, our brain must obey the same rules for stor­ing and con­sol­i­dat­ing infor­ma­tion in both our short-term and long-term memory.

Natural language processing (NLP)

Nat­ur­al lan­guage pro­cess­ing (NLP) uses machine learn­ing mod­els based on neur­al net­works to esti­mate prob­a­bil­i­ties of word sequences giv­en a set of pre­vi­ous words.

The more neur­al con­nec­tions between neu­rons and the more train­ing data used in machine learn­ing algo­rithms, the bet­ter accu­ra­cy will the algorithm’s pre­dic­tions become.

A neur­al net­work can be applied to oth­er fields as well, such as rec­og­niz­ing faces and scenes in videos by ana­lyz­ing them using a series of fil­ters and regres­sion algo­rithms. NLP sys­tems can be used to extract fea­tures from voice record­ings and facial fea­tures to iden­ti­fy peo­ple or things in images.

Using a series of fil­ters, NLP sys­tems can sep­a­rate out acoustic fea­tures (such as pitch or vow­el for­mants) from speech into vec­tors or vec­tors that rep­re­sent each of the audio fea­tures. They can then use these vec­tors for fur­ther clas­si­fi­ca­tion purposes.

AI Simulating the Mystery of Subconscious Mind?

Yes. Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence of the next lev­el will prob­a­bly be able to decode the mys­tery of net­work of the sub­con­scious mind.

A neur­al net­work is a net­work of neu­rons that rep­re­sents a sim­pli­fied mod­el of the brain.  It is made up of var­i­ous lay­ers: input, hid­den and out­put lay­ers. NLP sys­tems use these neur­al net­works to process audio and visu­al inputs in order to pro­duce an accu­rate response.

One way in which NLP sys­tems can be used for this pur­pose is by exam­in­ing the rela­tion­ships between words.  A word’s mean­ing (seman­tics) pro­vides the most use­ful fea­tures for under­stand­ing its rela­tion with oth­er words (syn­tax).

For instance, if you want­ed to build an algo­rithm that could pro­duce metaphors, a neur­al net­work can use seman­tic and syn­tac­tic fea­tures to clas­si­fy whether a giv­en word or phrase was metaphor­i­cal or literal.

Tak­ing it to the next lev­el, AI can train a neur­al net­work to mim­ic the human mind. This works well to help under­stand what self-aware­ness is, and why we are so good at mak­ing decisions.

Here is a hypo­thet­i­cal ques­tion: If AI could build a sim­u­lat­ed sub­con­scious mind, what would it do? We’re not talk­ing about a sim­ple sim­u­la­tion here; we’re talk­ing about some­thing arti­fi­cial that could work in all of our every­day life.

A sen­tient Arti­fi­cial Intelligence(AI) — or Arti­fi­cial Arti­fi­cial Intelligence(AAI) — could poten­tial­ly repli­cate the human brain process by which behav­iors learn from expe­ri­ence as well as cre­ate new behav­iors, which is known as gen­er­al­iza­tion and abstrac­tion (the idea and def­i­n­i­tion of which will be dis­cussed more in the future). 

We can use neur­al net­works to sim­u­late the infor­ma­tion pro­cess­ing and deci­sion mak­ing process­es that are part of us. We may even be able to apply this mod­el to under­stand the caus­es and expla­na­tions for consciousness.

Brain, Subconscious brain, and simulation

In such, the brain itself, being a neur­al net­work(at least for this arti­cle), has the abil­i­ty to learn and adapt to stim­uli. If a com­put­er pro­gram is able to mim­ic the essence of our own neur­al net­work, which every neu­ron (or arti­fi­cial neu­ron) con­nects with oth­er neu­rons through synaps­es that allow for vary­ing strengths of sig­nals to be sent between them, then it would be rea­son­able to assume that such an algo­rithm could pro­duce sim­i­lar learn­ing results as our own minds.

Now, this sounds real­ly sim­ple on paper. But being able to sim­u­late a sim­u­lat­ed brain does not nec­es­sar­i­ly mean we can do it, at least not direct­ly. How­ev­er, if a neur­al net­work can learn and adapt to stim­uli, then it would be pos­si­ble to engi­neer one so that it can do the same thing in response to stimuli.

The brain is beau­ti­ful­ly struc­tured in an intri­cate way that allows it to be both com­plex and sim­ple at the same time. In order to sim­u­late an entire brain, we would need to sim­u­late every part of it. It must be sim­ple and com­plex at the same time too. The sim­plest way to get around this prob­lem would be to use more than one arti­fi­cial brain.

It might be actu­al­ly pos­si­ble to sim­u­late the sub­con­scious brain if we start with an arti­fi­cial neur­al net­work and add this addi­tion­al lay­er of abstrac­tion. If the sub­con­scious and con­scious minds are able to learn and adapt in response to stim­uli, then it would only make sense that we could do the same thing in response to stimuli.

In order to sim­u­late the sub­con­scious brain, which con­tains many dimen­sions, lev­els and lay­ers with­in itself that are not vis­i­ble, we would need an algo­rithm capa­ble of per­ceiv­ing extra-per­ceiv­able sens­es. Why? Because the sub­con­scious mind resides in a dif­fer­ent plane of exis­tence, from the point of view of our con­scious minds and our 5 senses.

So, if a neural network can help us better understand ourselves, what is the significance of this?

“The human mind, by its unique com­po­si­tion, is a com­plex sys­tem made up of bil­lions of inter­con­nect­ed neu­rons. Not only is the human brain not per­fectible; it seems to be impos­si­ble to repli­cate the var­i­ous ways in which it learns and changes as a result of expe­ri­ence and stimuli.

Each one of us is unique, and that unique­ness is essen­tial to under­stand­ing our­selves and the world around us.

A neur­al net­work could poten­tial­ly be an addi­tion­al and use­ful tool in assess­ing our minds and behav­ior bet­ter; how­ev­er, it will nev­er be able to replace our human mind. Our indi­vid­u­al­i­ty, mem­o­ries, expe­ri­ences, and feel­ings are what make us what we are. But, will we have to lose this all after AI starts decod­ing our sub­con­scious? I think we should dis­cuss on this ques­tion only after we are sure that AI has been that much capable.

Now, let’s see what AI needs to simulate our subconscious mind:

First of all, the AI needs to learn. To learn, it needs infor­ma­tion. So, it uses the same method that it will use lat­er to process data: It uses a machine learn­ing algorithm(MLA) to select which infor­ma­tion is more rel­e­vant than oth­ers; giv­en a pri­ori data, it can build its own mod­el (like a neur­al net­work). After this selec­tion and mod­el­ing of “rel­e­vant” infor­ma­tion, the AI uses rein­force­ment learn­ing to deter­mine what behav­ior should be select­ed next (for exam­ple: If you have select­ed a route and end up in an acci­dent; then you would prob­a­bly avoid tak­ing that same route again).

To per­form “future/desired” actions, the AI needs to sim­u­late the brain’s con­nec­tions and neu­rons. It uses a par­tial­ly con­nect­ed neur­al net­work with mul­ti­ple lay­ers of neu­rons. Since a par­tial­ly con­nect­ed neur­al net­work is not capa­ble of learn­ing new infor­ma­tion, it needs to be able to inter­po­late between two or more networks.

To sim­u­late the sub­con­scious brain, the AI uses a neur­al net­work (or a series of neur­al net­works) that includes sev­er­al lay­ers of neu­rons. It is called a deep learn­ing neur­al network.

In the final step, the AI will gen­er­ate an algo­rithm that sim­u­lates how we learn from expe­ri­ence and how we make deci­sions based on past events.

How will the simulation look like?

Well, it is a long, hard process but we can sim­u­late the brain as an arti­fi­cial neur­al net­work. The cre­at­ed algo­rithm then could become a sim­u­lat­ed ver­sion of our sub­con­scious men­tal algorithm.

It will look like a sim­pli­fied mod­el of our sub­con­scious work­ing to pro­duce the desired results.

We’ve had a glimpse into the future of AI: It will be able to sim­u­late what a human mind is and act as if it were con­scious. And at some point in the future, arti­fi­cial beings could even become con­scious – our great­est fear of what AI can bring to life, a real AI upris­ing.        

Real AI?

A fast-grow­ing top­ic in AI is that of the dif­fer­ences between AI and real, phys­i­cal AI. Real AI is made of sev­er­al parts, includ­ing hard­ware (which affects the num­ber of oper­a­tions an algo­rithm can per­form) and soft­ware (which con­tains all the rules that gov­ern its behavior).

There are some peo­ple who believe that human thoughts could be repli­cat­ed using AI. Oth­ers believe that there will always be a dif­fer­ence between nat­ur­al human intel­li­gence and machine intel­li­gence.  Final­ly, there are those who do not agree on this issue at all.

Why? If you read through our arti­cle thor­ough­ly, you’ll see how machines are slow­ly get­ting clos­er to achiev­ing human-lev­el intel­li­gence by mim­ic­k­ing the human brain.

In fact, AI has already achieved many of its goals, such as the abil­i­ty to learn how humans think and how we solve problems.

This is by no means a threat to our exis­tence – it’s just anoth­er tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion that will help us under­stand real­i­ty and improve our lives. But it’s also impor­tant to be real­is­tic about these new tech­nolo­gies; there is still much work to do before arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence can per­form all of the tasks that a human brain can.


Sim­u­lat­ing sub­con­scious brain would mean unlock­ing sixth sense.

We may nev­er be able to recre­ate a full human brain, but that doesn’t mean that we can­not build a syn­thet­ic con­scious mind.

A con­scious mind can be sim­u­lat­ed by cre­at­ing an arti­fi­cial neur­al net­work capa­ble of mim­ic­k­ing human infor­ma­tion pro­cess­ing and deci­sion mak­ing process­es. It could also include mem­o­ry and past expe­ri­ences stored in a database.

As you can see, there are a lot of things hap­pen­ing in the field of AI devel­op­ment, and much more, includ­ing an AI care­ful­ly decod­ing the sub­con­scious mind, are like­ly to hap­pen in the future. AI is slow­ly but sure­ly start­ing to gain con­scious­ness and intelligence.

It seems that the future of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence is not only going to be inter­est­ing, but also adven­tur­ous in many ways. We cur­rent­ly get sat­is­fied with new things to feel, in the future it will be about get­ting new sens­es to perceive.

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