AI News, Who's Afraid of the Uncanny Valley?

Who's Afraid of the Uncanny Valley?

try{_uacct='UA-747464-1';urchinTracker();}catch(err){} Many people say they find such imagery eerie, creepy, scary, freaky, frightening.

It was proposed by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in a 1970 paper, and has since been the subject of several studies and has gained notoriety in popular culture, with mentions in countless YouTube videos and even on a popular TV show.

You can see on both curves (solid line for still robots and dashed line for robots that move) how familiarity (vertical axis) increases as human likeness (horizontal axis) increases, until it plunges and then increases again -- hence the valley in uncanny valley.

As a kind of benchmark, the uncanny valley could in principle help us understand why some robots are more likable than others.In that way roboticists would be able to create better designs and leap over the creepiness chasm.

What if you ask a lot of people in controlled experiments how they feel about a wide variety of robots and when you plot the data it doesn't add up to the uncanny valley graph?

We must complete the map of the uncanny valley to know what is human or to establish the design methodology for creating familiar devices through robotics research.

on stands now) about the challenges facing those who design social robots, we expected to spend weeks sifting through an exhaustive supply of data related to the uncanny valley—data that anchors the pervasive, but only loosely quantified sense of dread associated with robots.

In fact, MacDorman believes there might be more than one uncanny valley, because many different factors -- in particular, odd combinations like a face with realistic skin and cartoonish eyes, for example -- can be disconcerting.

Hiroshi Ishiguro, a Japanese roboticist who's created some of the most striking androids, and a collaborator, Christoph Bartneck, now a professor at Eindhoven University of Technology, conducted a study a few years ago using Ishiguro's robotic copy, concluding that the uncanny valley theory is 'too simplistic.'

Advancing the theory by finding evidence to support it, or disprove it, would be important to robotics because human-robot interaction and social robots are becoming ever more important.

Moreover, human-looking robots could be valuable tools in psychology and neuroscience, helping researchers study human behavior and even disorders like autism.

Uncanny valley

The concept of the uncanny valley suggests that humanoid objects which appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings elicit uncanny, or strangely familiar, feelings of eeriness and revulsion in observers.[2] Valley denotes a dip in the human observer's affinity for the replica, a relation that otherwise increases with the replica's human likeness.[3] Examples can be found in robotics, 3D computer animations, and lifelike dolls among others.

The concept was identified by the robotics professor Masahiro Mori as Bukimi no Tani Genshō (不気味の谷現象) in 1970.[5] The term was first translated as uncanny valley in the 1978 book Robots: Fact, Fiction, and Prediction, written by Jasia Reichardt,[6] thus forging an unintended link to Ernst Jentsch's concept of the uncanny,[7] introduced in a 1906 essay entitled 'On the Psychology of the Uncanny.'[8][9][10] Jentsch's conception was elaborated by Sigmund Freud in a 1919 essay entitled 'The Uncanny' ('Das Unheimliche').[11] Mori's original hypothesis states that as the appearance of a robot is made more human, some observers' emotional response to the robot becomes increasingly positive and empathetic, until it reaches a point beyond which the response quickly becomes strong revulsion.

However, as the robot's appearance continues to become less distinguishable from a human being, the emotional response becomes positive once again and approaches human-to-human empathy levels.[13] This area of repulsive response aroused by a robot with appearance and motion between a 'barely human' and 'fully human' entity is the uncanny valley.

In other words, this aversive reaction to realism can be said to be evolutionary in origin.[39] As of 2011, researchers at University of California, San Diego and California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology are measuring human brain activations related to the uncanny valley.[40][41] In one study using fMRI, a group of cognitive scientists and roboticists found the biggest differences in brain responses for uncanny robots in parietal cortex, on both sides of the brain, specifically in the areas that connect the part of the brain’s visual cortex that processes bodily movements with the section of the motor cortex thought to contain mirror neurons.

body modification), which aim to improve the abilities of the human body beyond what would normally be possible, be it eyesight, muscle strength, or cognition.[66] So long as these enhancements remain within a perceived norm of human behavior, a negative reaction is unlikely, but once individuals supplant normal human variety, revulsion can be expected.

However, according to this theory, once such technologies gain further distance from human norms, 'transhuman' individuals would cease to be judged on human levels and instead be regarded as separate entities altogether (this point is what has been dubbed 'posthuman'), and it is here that acceptance would rise once again out of the uncanny valley.[66] Another example comes from 'pageant retouching' photos, especially of children, which some find disturbingly doll-like.[67] A

Navigating a social world with robot partners: A quantitative cartography of the Uncanny Valley

We demonstrate an UV in subjects’ explicit ratings of likability for a large, objectively chosen sample of 80 real-world robot faces and a complementary controlled set of edited faces.

An “investment game” showed that the UV penetrated even more deeply to influence subjects’ implicit decisions concerning robots’ social trustworthiness, and that these fundamental social decisions depend on subtle cues of facial expression that are also used to judge humans.

Into the uncanny valley: 80 robot faces ranked by creepiness

Mathur and colleague David Reichling at the University of California, San Francisco, selected 80 examples of robot faces, from the cartoonish and metallic MIT robot Kismetto the painstakingly realistic BINA48 (pictured at the start of this story).

They asked 66 workers on the online marketplace Amazon Mechanical Turk to rate the faces on a scale from 1 to 100, based on how mechanical and how human they looked.

As the faces gradually shift from totally mechanical to more lifelike, their likeability scores go up, then plunge, then climb back up again.

In a second round of experiments, Mathur and Reichling asked a second set of 92 Turk workers to play a game of trust with the robot faces.

The amount of money that workers chose to give to the robot followed the uncanny valley pattern, though their decisions also seemed skewed by other characteristics, like the robot’s perceived gender.

“There’s a big difference between asking people how much they like a robot and how much they’re willing to actually put their money where their mouth is,”

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