Human-computer interaction scientist Karl MacDorman has produced a fantastically illustrated video lecture on the psychology of the ‘uncanny valley‘ – the effect where androids become creepy when they’re almost human.
It comes in seven 3-4 minute sections, each of which is packed with some completely fascinating science and some wonderful examples of humanoid androids in action and how people react to them.
It’s a bit hard to navigate the YouTube links between sections, so I’ve collected the links to all the parts of the talk, entitled ‘Charting the Uncanny Valley’, below:
While reviewing the whole area of android – human interaction, MacDorman seems to have done some fascinating research himself, often taking paradigms from existing psychology studies and seeing how androids alter the experience.
For example, in one study [pdf] he morphed android faces with human ones (using Philip K Dick as the human face!) and measured how the images trigger differing feelings of familiarity, eeriness and the like.
A very well spent 20 minutes and a great introduction to a fascinating area.