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Covert Speech, Consciousness and AIs

A look at the inner voice in your head

Keno Leon
9 min readAug 11, 2022

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Out of all the amazing (and mysterious) things your brain does, giving you an inner voice is one that I have always found fascinating due to just how strange it is, chances are you will be using it as you read this words and yet it is a purely private experience, so private in fact that there is little consensus as to whether we all have one, yet from the Neuroscience /Systems point of view it is more accesible ( at least theoretically ) and might even be portable to artificial systems and thus open a new generation of AIs, to cap things off, it is also a key component of consciousness as it sometimes manifests our thoughts and awareness.

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What exactly are we talking about…

The silent reproduction of speech, language or sound*

I think we can also expand the definition by stating that it can be voluntary as when you are consciously repeating a word or phrase in your head or involuntary as when a song is stuck in your head.

* Other modalities: How one thinks in the privacy of his/her/them brain is of course very subjective, chances are 2 people don't precisely think about something in exactly the same way, but there are commonalities, some people might think in words, others in images, a combination of both or surprisingly neither.

Another interesting modality tidbit is that deaf people instead of lacking inner speech sometimes have it replaced with sign language which speaks to the flexibility of the system.
Covert speech also goes by other names: Imagined speech, Internal monologue, silent reading, inner voice, inner language, private speech and endophasia...One can only speculate if the voice of god and the…

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