Endearing or scary?

This video generated a lot of interesting response on YouTube. Most people find it quite disturbing. It reminded me of my little kid who can also be scared by toy robots. Could it be the case that, as we grow older, we are not so easily scared because we can analyse the toy robots. And if we then encounter one that we cannot analyse we freak out? Hmmm, it seems to be a much more direct emotional response. What is it about these robots that approach human-like features.

The Uncanny Valley
Mori’s Uncanny Valley.

It seems to be a clear cut example of what Mori described: The uncanny valley is a hypothesis that when robots and other facsimiles of humans look and act almost like actual humans, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers. The “valley” in question is a dip in a proposed graph of the positivity of human reaction as a function of a robot’s lifelikeness (source wikipedia).

Bear in mind that the uncanny valley has not been ‘proven’ scientifically, but since it is philosophically impossible to prove a scientific hypothesis, it is more important that it has not been disproven, yet. Bartneck wrote two papers about it, see the refs in wikipedia.