The Uncanny Valley
For the first time, the Japanese paper by Masahiro Mori describing the “uncanny valley” of humanoid figures has been translated. As our robots are becoming more and more lifelike, the importance of this paper also increases. It details the sharp decline in how much humans tend to accept an object once it reaches a certain level of human likeness.
[Mori] also charts our affinities and lack thereof for still and moving objects, noting that our affinity is pretty high for a stuffed animal or a humanoid robot. But movement is key to our affinity — a humanoid robot would not move like a human, so it would be incredibly creepy, he says.
The point where it becomes creepy is the beginning of the valley. Is it surpassable? We will have to wait and see. It will probably come down to whether we are more accepting of a robot once it can move and speak like we do, or if it’s the realization that despite how it looks it is not human. A subtle but important difference I think. Opinions?