Round-Up Ready – Uncanny Valley Edition

The uncanny valley is a term/phenomenon first coined 42 years ago in an article by Masahiro Mori, a robotics professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. In the article, he notes that,

in climbing toward the goal of making robots appear human, our affinity for them increases until we come to a valley, which I call the uncanny valley

The uncanny valley is  the reason why those life-like robots just look so wrong, and why humans feel a certain level of repulsion when dealing with these robots. So to that end, here are a couple of links relating to bridging the uncanny valley.

It is just so uncanny.

If there is going to be one culture to bridge the uncanny valley, it will likely be the Japanese. Robots are a very big part of Japanese culture, permeating many aspects of daily life. Japan faces an ageing population, declining birth rate, and low immigration rate, and robots are gradually picking up the slack in the workforce, particularly in care-giving industry.

One way to combat the uncanny valley is to keep the robots unseen, and the transportation industry is leading the way.

Perhaps the best way to overcome the uncanny valley is through children. Efforts to make people more accepting of robots should begin early.

  • Computer animated films have the potential to help kids to learn to accept the uncanniness of certain figures
  • The Furby is back, and a great Radiolab story uncovers that kids actually have empathy for the creepy toy
  • And great films, like this short by Spike Jonze called I’m Here, are a great way for people to gain empathy and ultimately acceptance of robots…that and seeing them dance.





One thought on “Round-Up Ready – Uncanny Valley Edition

  1. Pingback: Round-Up Ready: A Year in Blogging Edition | On a Quasi-Related Note

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