Friday, March 5, 2010

Fun Fact Friday - Welcome to the Valley

A warning, before you go any further. There are things you can't un-see, and this may not be for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. Okay, so I may be living under a rock, but it's cool here, and the ground is nice and moist. An occasional grub to munch upon. I understand that what I'm sharing here today is by no means new, and may have been part of pop culture for some time. I've understood 'The Uncanny Valley' in theory, I just never knew it had a name.
Dogimo brought up the concept of The Uncanny Valley the other day, in reaction to Bev's post regarding, in part, Courtney Love. I had to look it up, and it makes sense.Dr. Masahiro Mori originally coined the phrase in relation to his work in the field of robotics. It stipulates, basically, that our innate attraction to an object, living or inanimate, will increase gradually, but at a certain point in design, attraction rapidly turns to revulsion. Only when the object or being obtains a greater humanness does the curve again rise. To quote Dave Bryant's take on this phenomenon:
"This chasm—the uncanny valley of Doctor Mori’s thesis—represents the point at which a person observing the creature or object in question sees something that is nearly human, but just enough off-kilter to seem eerie or disquieting. The first peak, moreover, is where that same individual would see something that is human enough to arouse some empathy, yet at the same time is clearly enough not human to avoid the sense of wrongness. The slope leading up to this first peak is a province of relative emotional detachment—affection, perhaps, but rarely more than that."Dr. Mori brings this up in his effort to keep man from designing robots that too closely mimic human appearance and behavior, because a slight mistake (the 'Joan Rivers' model, for example) could cast the object into the valley.This valley is subjective, certainly. Things that bother Lori (Charles Schwab ads, folk art) are not the same pseudo-human things that wig me out (mannequins, Yul Brynner in 'West World', grotesque deformities).Strangely, I'm drawn to folk art, especially animated, talking folk art, and Lori can't turn away from every possible television show centered on deformities. Go figure.The valley's not all bad, mind you. Zombies live there. Awww, look at the cute little zombie!

9 comments:

Bev said...

The Joan Rivers model is terrifying, you're right. I prefer her in "Dot Matrix" form, ala Spaceballs.

MJenks said...

Huh...that's funny. Seems as though Carrot Top has spent his entire career in the valley...

EmcogNEATO! said...

I second that Joan Rivers thing. YIKES!

Sarah J. Bradley said...

I'll admit it...I watch all the shows on Discovery Health. The more deformed, the more interesting. My favorite at the moment is the woman who was pregnant for 40+ years! Tom can't stomach it...

Samsmama said...

Charles Schwab ads? That made me laugh out loud. I got engrossed in a "top ten deformity" thing on E! one night. That "tree man" grosses me out to no end but I just can't quit looking at him. But I have to do it in very small doses because, seriously, my stomach turns.

Ok, some chic was pregnant for 40+ years? I busted out at that one! Going to go google it.

Elliott said...

As long as we only have to put up with her voice, Joan's fine. She's just getting creepier and creepier.

Mjenks, you're thinking of Mediocrity Valley. They're neighbors.

Sarah, you and Lori are on the same page. As are Tom and I. I have to leave the room. Even worse is that Lori watches those while we eat dinner.

Smama, even small doses don't do it for me. Especially Tree Man.

dogimo said...

And then there's The Canny Valley - the robots who live in there are just plain shrewd!

totalblammblamm said...

I have to say I'm fascinated by creepiness in all of its forms. Especially robotics at any level. There's probably something really wrong with me.

Nej said...

One word.....dolls.

(shiver)

Be nice and share!

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