Seed Magazine has an interesting piece on the ‘uncanny valley‘ effect, where humanoid figures become increasingly more attractive until they’re ‘a bit too lifelike’ and start seeming uncomfortably eerie.
It’s a fantastic piece because it discusses the development of the concept of ‘uncanniness’ – from the initial explanations by Freud to some tentative experimental studies that attempts to explain why some androids feel a bit creepy.
Disturbing experiences that feel both familiar and strange are instances of the ‚Äúuncanny,‚Äù an intuitive concept, yet one that has defied simple explanation for more than a century. Interest in the particular occurrences of the uncanny, in which humans are bothered by interaction with human-like models, began as a psychological curiosity. But as our ability to design artificial life has increased‚Äîalong with our dependence on it‚Äîgetting to the heart of why people respond negatively to realistic models of themselves has taken on a new importance. Attempts to understand the origins of this reaction, known since the 1970s as the ‚Äúuncanny valley response,‚Äù have drawn on everything from repressed fears of castration to an evolutionary mechanism for mate selection, but there has been little empirical evidence to assess the validity of these ideas.
I’ve always wondered whether people with robot fetishes, who get sexually aroused by android-like sex partners, are less susceptible to the uncanny valley effect.
Best of luck getting funding for that research project, I think to myself.
Link to Seed article ‘Into the Uncanny Valley’.