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  1. #1
    I could do things Hard's Avatar
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    Default The Uncanny Valley

    If you are unfamiliar with what the uncanny valley is, it's the idea of something being so close to human, but not quite human, that it makes the individual feel really uneasy and like something is wrong. I'm curious to see what people think of this, and how they respond to it.

    The reason I ask, is this evening I was chatting with a friend, and he pointed out to me that one of the music videos I showed him made him uneasy. I laughed because he was not the first to respond to this band like this. I have heard several others say "it's creepy". I respond completely confused unable to see how they think it's creepy. I can sort of see it in a round about sense, it's a bit odd and abstract, but that's actually what I like about it. He then went to say that it was essentially the uncanny valley. I disagreed at first, but I eventually agreed that yes, that is present at some level (though I don't "see" it, I can see how others could).

    This lead to the idea of the effect the uncanny valley on people. I actually like creepy things. It's sort of my favorite kind of thing really. Things that foster this sense of uneasiness from how bizarre it is, the creepy factor, etc. I think is so cool, funny, enthralling, and fascinating. I am really drawn to that sort of stuff. He then started sharing examples of things that really have an uncanny valley effect, and I respond as "I see it, it does make me a bit uneasy in a way, but I like that. This is really neat! I am fascinated by this". Essentially, I respond to the uncanny valley, or things similar to it with a level of excitement. I want to understand it more and observe it. I just like it in a way. We both agreed that I am in the minority with this.

    So, I want to know. How do you respond to the uncanny valley? Or things like it? Why do you think you respond the way you do? Discuss.
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  2. #2
    Senor Membrae Eugene Watson VIII's Avatar
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    I remember a part of silent hill 2 where there's a room full of mannequins. The flashlight goes out or something then the light comes back and there's blood all over the ground (or something, can't recall exactly). Things like this are not human, but the blood is just so absurdly human I just can't make out what it is that's going on. Theres a similar thing in Condemned with mannequins. Everytime you look over your shoulder they move closer to you as you try find your way out. Stuff like that is just creepy. I don't really have a good reason other than what I said before (which is a pretty lame one but oh well). I respond these ways because it's almost completely human and yet still a bit off and is so close to being what we call animate or alive that it creates like a dissonance, like in music. It feels unresolved and has only a slight need for resolution that it creates some tension in me.

    In short, because it's that close to being normal and it still isn't. That's pretty unreasonable mostly and matter of fact but it's just like the dissonance I explained earlier; it just is.

  3. #3
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard View Post
    If you are unfamiliar with what the uncanny valley is, it's the idea of something being so close to human, but not quite human, that it makes the individual feel really uneasy and like something is wrong. I'm curious to see what people think of this, and how they respond to it.

    The reason I ask, is this evening I was chatting with a friend, and he pointed out to me that one of the music videos I showed him made him uneasy. I laughed because he was not the first to respond to this band like this. I have heard several others say "it's creepy". I respond completely confused unable to see how they think it's creepy. I can sort of see it in a round about sense, it's a bit odd and abstract, but that's actually what I like about it. He then went to say that it was essentially the uncanny valley. I disagreed at first, but I eventually agreed that yes, that is present at some level (though I don't "see" it, I can see how others could).

    This lead to the idea of the effect the uncanny valley on people. I actually like creepy things. It's sort of my favorite kind of thing really. Things that foster this sense of uneasiness from how bizarre it is, the creepy factor, etc. I think is so cool, funny, enthralling, and fascinating. I am really drawn to that sort of stuff. He then started sharing examples of things that really have an uncanny valley effect, and I respond as "I see it, it does make me a bit uneasy in a way, but I like that. This is really neat! I am fascinated by this". Essentially, I respond to the uncanny valley, or things similar to it with a level of excitement. I want to understand it more and observe it. I just like it in a way. We both agreed that I am in the minority with this.
    I wonder if this difference in reaction really is a matter of knowledge and awareness of 'Truth'. To explain: you both are looking at the music video and instinctively comparing it to what your perception of the world is. Your friend possibly finds it creepy (and experiences the uncanny feeling) because it does not mesh with how he sees things. You instead, perhaps felt it as a 'true' representation and wasn't weirded out, even if it was a little unsettling. This then raises the question of whether your perception of reality is 'correct' (ie. an accurate insight into the way of things) or if it is a matter of subjective perceptive (ie. the artist's interpretation just happens to match your interpretation of reality).

    Of course, normally the uncanny valley isn't applied in such abstract terms, and usually is something that all humans can agree upon. So can this even be a case of the uncanny valley if people don't agree on the uncanniness?
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  4. #4
    Entertaining Cracker five sounds's Avatar
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    really interesting topic. i've heard of this before.

    i respond negatively to it. like probably disproportionately so. maybe it's Ne/Fi, but it really rubs me the wrong way.
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  5. #5
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    It gets me when features are altered in grotesque ways. I'm fine with androids - actually that hyper-realistic Japanese one (Actroid F) seems very pleasant to me - but all-black eyes... torn mouths... no head... anything like that and I'm out.

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    I haven't run across the actual term here before, but I was aware of how some feel unsettled -- it was a big public discussion when "The Polar Express" came out... that the animation was too close without being "right" and it was turning some people off.

    I also saw a video of someone's science project -- a robotic female dancer -- on FaceBook last month, and it was kind of eerie because she MOVED perfectly, especially with the hands and arms (totally fluid and rather nuanced), but her face was purposefully wrong and she still showed some robot parts, purposefully. I was rather mesmerized and a little unsettled by it.

    EDIT:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...red-Lines.html

    It gives more context to when you watch the movie "AI" and everyone's looking at David and comparing him to the robots they are used to (that look more robotic). His behavior and emotional responses are off enough that you know he's not flesh and blood, but he otherwise looks and is incredibly close... and some people felt very threatened by that.

    I personally like to be unsettled and creeped out in general, so the uncanny valley doesn't turn me off per se. It also raises some fascinating questions about what and who people are, and what makes something a person vs not.
    Last edited by Bellflower; 04-12-2014 at 09:10 AM.
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  7. #7
    I could do things Hard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    I wonder if this difference in reaction really is a matter of knowledge and awareness of 'Truth'. To explain: you both are looking at the music video and instinctively comparing it to what your perception of the world is. Your friend possibly finds it creepy (and experiences the uncanny feeling) because it does not mesh with how he sees things. You instead, perhaps felt it as a 'true' representation and wasn't weirded out, even if it was a little unsettling. This then raises the question of whether your perception of reality is 'correct' (ie. an accurate insight into the way of things) or if it is a matter of subjective perceptive (ie. the artist's interpretation just happens to match your interpretation of reality).

    Of course, normally the uncanny valley isn't applied in such abstract terms, and usually is something that all humans can agree upon. So can this even be a case of the uncanny valley if people don't agree on the uncanniness?
    The video/band in question is this. In highly subjective matters like this, I think it's really hard to say which perception is "right" or even if there is truly a right answer at all. The only thing I'd really abstract in that regard is how the majority of people respond to it. If I'm in the minority to how I respond to it, then it stands to reason that my perception of it might be "less right", but I'd really hesitate to call it wrong at all, by the nature of how subjective it is.

    The uncanny valley is subjective by it's nature, and what I have read some psychologists suggest it doesn't even exist because not everyone responds to it the same, or even at all. It's something that's really hard to define. It's one of those "you know it when you see it" cases. As is a lot of stuff when it comes to perception of others (or in this case, something that looks like an "other").

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    I haven't run across the actual term here before, but I was aware of how some feel unsettled -- it was a big public discussion when "The Polar Express" came out... that the animation was too close without being "right" and it was turning some people off.

    I also saw a video of someone's science project -- a robotic female dancer -- on FaceBook last month, and it was kind of eerie because she MOVED perfectly, especially with the hands and arms (totally fluid and rather nuanced), but her face was purposefully wrong and she still showed some robot parts, purposefully. I was rather mesmerized and a little unsettled by it.

    It gives more context to when you watch the movie "AI" and everyone's looking at David and comparing him to the robots they are used to (that look more robotic). His behavior and emotional responses are off enough that you know he's not flesh and blood, but he otherwise looks and is incredibly close... and some people felt very threatened by that.

    I personally like to be unsettled and creeped out in general, so the uncanny valley doesn't turn me off per se. It also raises some fascinating questions about what and who people are, and what makes something a person vs not.
    Very much so. I remember hearing about that issue with the polar express movie as well. I've seen it and it did have some level of eerieness to it, but not enough to insight any kind of response in me beyond a passing thought.

    I also agree I like being unsettled/creeped out. There's something about it that I find exciting and fun. It's a big reason why Halloween is my favorite holiday.
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  8. #8
    IRL is not real Cimarron's Avatar
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    I respond negatively to it, maybe freak out. That's in-line with one of my greatest fears being "altered reality" (when one sees something impossible happening), such as (for example) dreaming about reaching out your arm to touch a wall, and your arm bending/reflecting back toward you at the wall's surface. That would instantly classify the dream as a nightmare, to me.
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  9. #9
    I could do things Hard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cimarron View Post
    I respond negatively to it, maybe freak out. That's in-line with one of my greatest fears being "altered reality" (when one sees something impossible happening), such as (for example) dreaming about reaching out your arm to touch a wall, and your arm bending/reflecting back toward you at the wall's surface. That would instantly classify the dream as a nightmare, to me.
    Really? That's sort of fascinating to me that it's seen as so scary. I find stuff like that to be so cool. In fact if I have dreams that have that sort of stuff in it I end up really enjoying the dream. Is it mostly stemmed from a sense of not being able to be in control?
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Alea_iacta_est's Avatar
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    C'mon, it's not that bad. Unless it is staring at you in the dark. I find it kind of fascinating, intriguing even, but I would probably not sit alone in a room with one.


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