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Isabel Millar

Research project: Sex, Artificial Intelligence and the Terror of the Real


This thesis investigates the relationship between sex and knowledge and its manifestation in the development of Artificial Intelligence via the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan in the 1970s and the clinical and theoretical developments of "the  Lacanian orientation"  spearheaded by Jacques-Alain Miller since the mid 1980s. Framed with the three Kantian questions What can I know? What should I do? and What can I hope for? AI, and more specifically the figure of the sexbot is first placed outside of the body (knowledge), then inside the body (act) and lastly in a position extimate to the body (hope). Via selected cinematic examples, I analyse human-AI relationships and the forms of enjoyment which they exemplify through the lens of the Lacanian non-existent sexual relation. The thesis engages the novel ways of conceptualising the subject of psychoanalysis, while drawing its implications on the contemporary philosophical discourse. I ask how Artificial Intelligence problematizes psychosis for the Lacanian "being-for-sex" (être pour le sexe) and the sexual non-relation, and for the Millerian reflection on enjoyment and the speaking body. The conceptual figure of the sex-bot understood as fully synthetic artificially intelligent life form is employed as the vanishing mediator which articulates the onto-epistemological nexus between psychoanalysis and philosophy in which this non-relation resides.  Sexuality is not a contingent historical problem of civilization to be solved or liberated from, rather it is the irreducible ontological-techno-scientific problem that underlies the very entrance into subjectivity and the social bond


I am a writer and PhD researcher with experience in television, higher education, screen writing, and human rights. I am also contributor and co-editor of Everyday Analysis.

Following my BA in Philosophy at the University of Sussex I worked as a TV presenter and producer in Spain. After which I returned to London to work in human rights activism and completed a Masters in Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London alongside writing comedy and several screenplays. Between 2016-2017 I was the UK's first Secular Adviser in Higher Education, consulting on sensitive social, cultural and pastoral issues at the University of Westminster. 

I am now in my final year of doctoral study and preparing my thesis manuscript for publication.

Areas of research interest

  • Lacanian Psychoanalysis
  • Contemporary Philosophy
  • Cultural Theory
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Sexuality
  • Media and Film
  • Film Theory
  • Aesthetics


  • BA Philosophy: University of Sussex
  • MA Psychosocial Studies: Birkbeck College, University of London


Millar, I. (Forthcoming) "Before we even know what we are, we fear to lose it": The Missing Object of the Primal Scene. In C. Neill      (ed.) Bladerunner 2049: Some Lacanian Thoughts: London: Palgrave Macmillan

Millar, I. (2019) Kant avec Sade: A Ghost in the Shell? Vestigia Journal (2)1

Millar, I. (2019) The sexual relation does not exist, but does my sex-bot know? Journal of the Centre for Freudian  Analysis and Research

Millar, I. (2019) Ex-Machina: Sex, Knowledge and Artificial Intelligence. Psychoanalytische Perspectieven 36(4) : 447-467

Millar, I (2018) Black Mirror: From Lacan's lathouse to Miller's speaking body. Psychoanalytische Perspectieven 36(2): 187-205

Conference papers

The Courtauld Institute of Art - Imagining the Apocalypse Conference                                         2019

The Apocalypse of Sex

Duquesne University -  Lacan's Ecrits Conference                                                                          2019

Kant avec Sade: A Ghost in the Shell

Edinburgh Napier University - Lacan in Scotland Guest Lecture                                                    2019

Sex, Artificial Intelligence and the Enigma of Reproduction

Warwick Continental Philosophy Conference                                                                                    2019

Kant avec Sade: A Sex Robot Ethics

The Freud Museum: Beyond the Joke: Psychoanalysis and Comedy Conference                        2019                          

Panellist with Everyday Analysis Collective

The Laboratory for Lacanian Politics                                                                                                  2019

Jacques Alain Miller's 'A Fantasy': Revisited

The Laboratory for Lacanian Politics                                                                                                  2018

Baudrillard and The Ecstacy of Communication                                                                

The Laboratory for Lacanian Politics                                                                                                  2018

 Bodies, Networks and Borders: Jean Claude Milner's 'The Traps of The All'                                           

University of Ghent - Lacan's Ecrits Conference                                                                               2018

Algorhithmic Extimacy: Enjoyment and Artificial Intelligence

University of Essex - Society for European Philosophy Conference                                               2018

Enjoyments of the Alethosphere

Middlesex University - Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society Conference                                       2018

Enjoyment in the Age of Ordinary Psychosis

University of Ghent - Doctoral Workshop on Lacan's Seminar XX                                                   2017

On the Baroque

Winchester University: Society for European Philosophy Conference                                               2017

Artificial Intelligence and the Sexual Compact

Middlesex University - Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society Conference                                          2017

The sexual relation does not exist, but does my Sex-Bot know?

Regents University - Society for European Philosophy Conference                                                     2016

Ordinary Psychosis and Contemporary Materialism

Kingston University - Humanities & Social Sciences Research Conference                                      2016   

Give Me Back My Name: The Subject of Ordinary Psychosis

Kingston University - Media & Communication Research Conference                                               2016

The Real and the Subject: Contemporary Lacanian Symptoms


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