Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Uncanny Valley Is Just A Variation On "Dude Looks Like A Lady"

So, I have become aware of a hypothesis called the uncanny valley.

From the Wiki article:
Mori's hypothesis states that as a robot is made more humanlike in its appearance and motion, the emotional response from a human being to the robot will become increasingly positive and empathic, until a point is reached beyond which the response quickly becomes that of strong repulsion. However, as the appearance and motion continue to become less distinguishable from a human being, the emotional response becomes positive once more and approaches human-to-human empathy levels.

This area of repulsive response aroused by a robot with appearance and motion between a "barely-human" and "fully human" entity is called the uncanny valley. The name captures the idea that a robot which is "almost human" will seem overly "strange" to a human being and thus will fail to evoke the empathetic response required for productive human-robot interaction.

I call bullcrap. I think this uncanny valley nonsense is really tied to people's perceptions of a thing, and the uneasiness experienced when those perceptions turn out to be false.

I was at a party once and dipped a piece of bread into a plate of raspberry sauce and took a big bite. It wasn't raspberry sauce at all, but salty shrimp cocktail sauce. Yuck!

You spot a woman walking in front of you. She has beautiful, long-flowing hair, and tight jeans fitting a nice, curvy figure. She turns around. Wait a minute, that lady has a beard and a handlebar mustache! Yuck!

The uncanny valley is really just an extension of one making the commitment of believing something based on one's perceptions, only to have that commitment undermined by a realization that the perception was flawed.

Also, perhaps there is a conflict in one's perception which is foregrounded when presented with a vaguely human-like robot, or a guy with a lady's butt. Part of your perception is asserting one thing, but another part of it is challenging that assertion, creating conflict, uneasiness, even disgust.


But why listen to what I have to say? Here's Aerosmith, hypothesizing with the power of rock.


dguzman said...

Who knew those former dopeheads could not only theorize at such a high intellectual level but also combine it with a killer guitar lick?

Jess Wundrun said...

I think Uncanny Valley is just outside Wasilla, Alaska.

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

They haven't stopped, either. "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" is actually a very scholarly essay on Insomnia.