Feb 5, 04:35 by IROSF
"Parallax: Turing the Uncanny Valley"
[ Reply ]
Interesting. I am not sure where I was reading about the Uncanny Valley originally, but I have tried to follow developments in the theory since. I am quite taken with the idea that we have evolved a 'revulsion mechanism' that is activated when we encounter something that is pretty close to human, but not quite. Witness the film Polar Express. Part of the reason it bombed so spectacularly was that the CGI humans were close, but not close enough, to actual humans and thus revolted many viewers.
My friends and I debate humaniform robots frequently. I am still not convinced that we need or even desire them. The closer they mimic the human form, the closer they get to the floor of the uncanny valley and the less attractive they will become (to the point of a Dune-like anti-machine pogrom, who can say).
While the prospect of an artificial intelligence is intellectually frightening, unless that intelligence is housed in a close-but-not-close-enough to human shell, the sheer visceral repulsion would be absent. I am fairly certain that we will either pass the humaniform robot uncanny valley problem or abandon the humaniform robot as a curiosity long before be have Turing compliant machines.
Robot vacuum cleaners are creepy, but for entirely different reasons.
It is interesting how the Other seems to be much much more like ourselves than we want to recognize.
[ Edited: Feb 5, 21:38 ] [ Reply ]
As something of a counter-argument, human-but-not-quite human sex dolls
are apparently a thriving business. They may not walk, talk, or bat their eyelashes, but that's just a matter of time. Actually, there will probably be other musculature that gets animated first.
It seems probable that the "uncanny valley" is more about behavior and expression than it is about actual appearance. I think the lack of communicative micro-expressions will creep us out way more than a lack of pores. But robotics engineers are making quite a study of expression (using devices well outside
the uncanny, but also using devices that do a pretty good job of proving the thesis
Eye contact, people. That can't be too hard!
[ Edited: Feb 6, 04:06 ] [ Reply ]
You bring up a good point. As an S/F aside, there was an episode of Ghost in the Shell Second Gig that actually featured an exclusive men's club devoted to sex dolls. I will wager that most people that see them still suffer the revulsion factor (for more reasons than the uncanny valley, granted). Margo Lanagan's "Machine Maid" in Extraordinary Engines deals with the sex doll as well, although this one is an almost perfect simulacrum, and the disturbing effect that it has on people.
It's a fascinating discovery, though. One that we really weren't able to discern or study until we were able to build simulations that could evoke the effect. It will be interesting to see how the research develops.
[ Edited: Nov 30, 00:00 ] [ Reply ]
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