December 8, 2008

The distant future, the year 2000

The uncanny valley is a scale depicting the way humans react to facsimiles of humans - robots, puppets, anime that are created to look human. A less humanoid robot would be judged as a robot pretending to be human. A more anatomically correct robot is instead judged not as a robot but as a human doing a poor job at acting like a normal person. The fact that the entity looks almost fully human makes non-human characteristics stand out to a viewer. A point is reached between "barely human" and "fully human" that creates a feeling of repulsion. This point, or ebb, is called the uncanny valley - see the chart below.

I explained it to my brother thus; we find Woody from Toy Story more likeable than a robot whose face is essentially human because we can tell that the robot's face isn't quite human, it's imitating. Woody is not anatomically correct, therefore more likeable.

What I'm trying to say here is that Nicole 'Stoneface' Kidman lies squarely at the bottom of the uncanny valley. This is why I am not going to see Australia. So please don't ask me to go with you. The thought terrifies me.

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