Masahiro Mori (2012), Karl F. MacDorman and Norri Kageki (1970), The Uncanny Valley

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A summary of “The Uncanny Valley”, originally in Japanese by Masahiro Mori

Most phenomena in life are described by monotonically increasing functions; that is, functions that increase continuously with the variable x. However, a function that doesn’t adhere to this definition would for example be a function describing the height when climbing a mountain. This seems to be similar for climbing towards the goal of making something appear human, where we reach a valley just before we reach our goal. The writer calls this the uncanny valley.

The rest of the section explains the position of every point on the graph below. Also interesting: movement changes the shape of the uncanny valley quite a bit, but its shape is not as constant. 1 ‘wrong’ movement can lead a perfectly fine model to easily fall down the uncanny valley. It’s therefore easier to go for the first peak, where ‘creepy’ movements are not punished as badly.

The writer mentions his suspicion regarding the phenomenon. He thinks it’s an integral part of our self-preservation, where this sense of eeriness is probably a form of primal instinct to protect us from danger, like corpses, members of different species etc.