The Uncanny Valley


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One explanation for such visceral reaction is that our sense of familiarity with robots increases as they become more humanlike—but only up to a point. If lifelike appearance is approached but not attained , our reaction shifts from empathy to revulsion.

Welcome To Uncanny Valley

This descent into creepiness is known as the uncanny valley. It was proposed by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in a paper, and has since been the subject of several studies and has gained notoriety in popular culture, with mentions in countless YouTube videos and even on a popular TV show. The uncanny valley is said to have implications for video game design and is blamed for the failure of at least one major Hollywood animation movie. Yet it remains a controversial notion in some robotics circles.


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Is it a valid scientific conjecture or just pseudoscience? There is something appealing about a simple concept that can explain something profound about our humanity and our creations.

To design the androids of the future, we shouldn’t fear exploring the depths of the uncanny valley

You can see on both curves solid line for still robots and dashed line for robots that move how familiarity vertical axis increases as human likeness horizontal axis increases, until it plunges and then increases again—hence the valley in uncanny valley. As a kind of benchmark, the uncanny valley could in principle help us understand why some robots are more likable than others.

HORROR THEORY: the uncanny valley

In that way roboticists would be able to create better designs and leap over the creepiness chasm. When Mori put forward the notion of the uncanny valley, he based it on assumptions and ideas he had on the topic.

Still debated

But as scientific hypotheses go, it was more speculation than a conclusion drawn from hard empirical data. This is what he wrote at the end of his paper:.


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Why do we humans have such a feeling of strangeness? Is this necessary?

Artificial intelligence: ‘Homo sapiens will be split into a handful of gods and the rest of us’

I have not yet considered it deeply, but it may be important to our self-preservation. Participants perceived an entity who exhibited this behavior as having psychopathic traits, pointing to a possible psychological explanation for the uncanny valley.

Welcome To Uncanny Valley

As androids become further integrated into our lives to aid us in a variety of capacities, we must like and trust them in order for us to have the best interactions. For example, recent research suggests that when medical students train with simulators that look and behave like humans, they perform better in real emergency situations. Figuring out how to transcend the uncanny valley is critical as we rely more and more on technology to assist us in everyday life. Share Flipboard Email.

Cynthia Vinney, Ph. She has co-authored two books on psychology and media engagement. Updated October 22, Boundaries Between Categories. Perception of Mind.

Mismatch Between Appearance and Behavior. Gray, Kurt, and Daniel M. ReadForm Lay, Stephanie. Rouse, Margaret.

10 Creepy Examples of the Uncanny Valley

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