Monday, February 3, 2014
Popular Science put together this video summary of the phenomenon of the uncanny valley in robotics, computer animation, and games. (Link to video)
The term "uncanny valley" was coined by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in 1970. It refers to how artificial characters become more and more attractive as they become more realistic—up to a certain point, when they become creepy and repellant.
Another example is the rampaging baby in Pixar's early experiment "Tin Toy." (Video link)
A Scientific American article suggests some explanations for why these failed lookalikes put us on edge. The phenomenon might be related to the unconscious switchover that happens when we believe something to be truly human. Our rising empathy in what we believe to be human can be betrayed by a simple failure of eye contact or head movement, invoking our concern or disgust at seeing a fellow human who is ill.
A related dreadful feeling happens when we see a Madame Tussaud waxwork, only to discover that it is real. This video shows such a prank as fan girls pose with what they think is their favorite boy band. (video link).
Masahiro Mori's paradigm suggests that there's a way out of the valley on the far end, as we approach very accurate simulation. Are we there yet? Have you seen anything recently in the realm of robotics or CGI simulation that you feel is truly appealing? If so, please let me know in the comments.
Previously on GurneyJourney:
Activision reveals real-time face simulation