Why do clowns freak us out? And why are robots cute until they look too much like people, and then then they creep us out?
It's our old friend the Uncanny Valley and it basically postulates that the more realistic something gets to a human likeness, the more repulsive it is. I don't mean like realistic special effects as in "Wrath Of The Titans" - that giant, flaming lava hand of Chronos looks cool - but rather likeness when it comes to humanoids, be they zombies or robots.
The Uncanny Valley has long been known, but but finding that line has been experimental. Technologists basically make things more and more realistic until people are creeped out and they compile statistics. It is moderately interesting applied psychology for consumer research but not science. However, now neuroscientists are on the trail, writes Elizabeth Landau on CNN.
First, he is a graphical primer on the uncanny valley:
The uncanny valley. Notice that if the object moves, the affinity or revulsion caused by the machine becomes much more pronounced. Photo Credit: AndroidScience.
Landau writes about Ayse Saygin, professor at the University of California, San Diego, who found something interesting in the neuroscience of creepiness: "The network that normally processes your body movements is more active when you view an android," compared with a stripped-down robot or a human, which could be because the brain has to combine conflicting information.
It's uncanny. And still creepy! Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro. Link: The Guardian
Is it because we know eerily realistic robots and most clowns look alive but we know they are not, and thus they play on our fear of death (or Jamaicans, in the case of voodoo zombies)? That's empathy, not science, but still worth considering.
Chris Rollins wrote about the uncanny valley being scaled by, you guess it, Japanese researchers. Here is a video. Still too weird? Or are people getting more and more accustomed as time, and realistic special effects, march on?
H/T Mark Changizi
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Moderate Pot Use By Adolescents Doesn't Hurt IQ
- Dopamine Receptor Agonist Drugs Linked To Gambling And Hypersexuality
- What's Hiding Under The Clouds Of Venus - Heavy Metal Frost?
- Ashes And Vegetables: The Diet Of Roman Gladiators Was Rather Poor
- New Pill-only Regimens Cure Patients With Hardest-to-treat Hepatitis C Infection
- Government Math: More Will Lose Health Insurance Than Gained It If ACA Subsidies Are Eliminated
- Manly Men And Feminine Women Are Not Evolutionary Mandates - They Are Urban Ones
- "Hey maybe it's not showing correctly on my iPad, but the link you included doesn't go directly..."
- "Our daughter had a serious adverse reaction to the MMR. When the HPV vaccine was offered we opted..."
- "Just like how the ability to learn language is ingrained, not any specific language, so certain..."
- "Since there's no actual link between vaccines and autism, I think the phrase Vaccines have been..."
- "I'll not argue that humanity made God in their image, because we sought to explain something we..."
- Should Science and Nature run advertorial by wacky Dr. Bronner’s that misleads on GMOs?
- Jack the Ripper’s identity remains a mystery after error in DNA analysis revealed
- Seed patent primer: Is the use of GMOs preventing farmers from reusing their seeds?
- History of penetrative sex reveals unexpected reversal in evolution
- Bleeding of Aloha: Ugliness of the anti-GMO movement in Hawaii
- Mutagenesis: One way Europeans wish it was 1936 again
- UCSF researchers identify key factor in transition from moderate to problem drinking
- Expert highlights research innovation and is optimistic about the future of IBS treatment
- Alternate approach to traditional CPR saves lives
- Once CD8 T cells take on one virus, they'll fight others too
- 11 million will lose health insurance if ACA subsidies are eliminated, study finds