The Uncanny Valley

By Deane Barker on August 19, 2004

Dr. Mori’s Uncanny Valley: Fascinating theory on robotics here. Make them lifelike, but not too lifelike.

…the more human-looking a machine becomes, the more people are drawn to it. For example, a robot that has arms and legs and can talk but clearly looks like a machine is typically embraced as a scientific wonder. But at the point when a robot looks and acts almost human but not quite, people are repulsed and the approval rating plummets.

The sudden dip is called the Uncanny Valley because something that comes across as an off-kilter version of humanity is, well, uncanny. It’s profoundly disturbing when something blurs the line between human and non-human.

More on this subject here and here.,

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  1. Yes, a good example is the new movie Polar Express. Those weird kids with their undead stare are a bit unsettling. In fact, they totally creep me out.

    Then again it could be Tom Hanks.

    But I enjoyed Shrek and Incredibles, so I think that the Uncanny Valley is the reason for Polar Express doing so bad.

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