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Friday, November 23rd, 2007

The Uncanny Valley, or Why Science is Fun and Zombies are Scary

scjody mentioned this last night and upon further investigation, I think it proves to be hilarious enough to post.

The theory of the Uncanny Valley states,
"...if an entity is sufficiently non-humanlike, then the humanlike characteristics will tend to stand out and be noticed easily, generating empathy. On the other hand, if the entity is "almost human", then the non-human characteristics will be the ones that stand out, leading to a feeling of "strangeness" in the human viewer."

It came up during a discussion of Beowulf and how several of us didn't have any desire to see it. Any. None. Nil. Cause we thought the "actors" were downright creepy.

Turns out our discomfort is explained perfectly by the Uncanny Valley.
...So are my feelings about Michael Jackson.

To my delight, accompanying the article was a graph! (All good science, you see, employs the use of graphs.)
And there be zombies on it (all good science, you see, references zombies):




There is some debate about whether this theory is sound. However it makes quite good sense to me, and I'm not nearly as interested in whether or not it passes scientific muster as with the fact that my own experience comes into greater focus because of it. Why would I choose Angel or Jessica Rabbit over a CGI Angelina Jolie? Until now I really couldn't say.

I don’t doubt we'll someday reach the point where we have perfectly passable ‘human’ robots, and CG actors that are just as attractive, if not more so, than their real deal counterparts. But not yet. And until then, you know what? I don’t feel like being part of the focus group.

On the subject of counterfeit humanity, the film Lars and the Real Girl looks like it might be worth a look:



You've Read the Post, now Own the Soundtrack!
Styxx - Mr. Roboto
Jonathan Coulton - Re: Your Brains
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