Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Uncanny Valley

Written 7 September, 2011

Uncanny Valley

The other day I told Sweetie I had read a remark in New World Notes.

"Imagine that!" she said. A remark!"

"Very funny," I said. "Hamlet raised the issue--"

"He raised an issue? Amazing!"

I ignored her, although that's not easy to do. "-- that we may see a revival of 3-D modeling of avatars."

"You mean back when they would scan someone's photo and make a horrid photorealistic face?" She shuddered.

"Exactly," I said. "I don't want my real life breasts in Second Life. Here I can have breasts that are more... perky."

Then Sweetie said, "Mesh will be very uncanny valley."

Uncanny Valley is the assertion that as a simulation approaches reality, it eventually reaches a point at which they become creepy.

Two examples of uncanny valley are the Frosty at Wendy's and just about anything on the menu at McDonalds. It's looks like food but isn't quite. Think about it. The Frosty looks like a milk shake, but then you taste that awful graininess (it's due to chipped ice).

A third example of uncanny valley is humanoid robots. Looking at some of them is like watching a train wreck-- mesmerizing, but horrifying. Like so:

Or how about this one?

Or this "Perfect Woman." You think? Or are the two guys who created her just girlfriendless geeks?


For me, the creepiest thing about this video isn't the robot itself but the pathos and rampant sexism of the creators and interviewers..

So imagine how it will be when those misshappen trolls who show up at infohubs will have entirely photoreal misshapen bodies. Or when your fantasy virtual lover has age spots on his or her arm.

Strangest virtual world I've ever known.


Blogger said...

ROBLOX is powered by an ever growing membership base of more than 300,000 creator players who generate an infinite variety of highly immersive experiences.

These experiences range from 3D games and competitions, to interactive adventures where friends can take on new avatars to imagine what it's like to be a dinosaur, a miner working a mine or an astronaut on a space exploration.

Cheyenne Palisades said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah. All us Second Lifers have been being dinosaurs and miners (and some of us minors!) and astronauts since 2004.