December 4th, 2008

breaking bad

Uncanny valley parts 1-3

I am posting my story The Uncanny Valley to reddwarfslash. It's a long, slow and waffly story, and not much has happened yet. Also the people on the community don't know who I am of course, so heaven knows what they make of this drawn out peculiar thing I'm inflicting on them.

The story is about the problem of two people touching, when one of them is literally intangible. And the premise is that the computer simulation of human touch is horrifying, because of the concept of the uncanny valley.

Wikipedia on The Uncanny Valley.

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 life-likeness... as a robot is made more humanlike in its appearance and motion, the emotional response from a human being to the robot will become increasingly positive and empathic, until a point is reached beyond which the response quickly becomes that of strong repulsion. This area of repulsive response aroused by a robot with appearance and motion between a "barely-human" and "fully human"entity is called the uncanny valley.


In 'Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers' Lister, working as a taxi driver on Mimas, takes Rimmer to a robotic brothel. It's the first time the two meet. Something about loathing of the human, and desire for robotic non-life, bound up with a loneliness and longing for real human contact, in a man permanently cut off from any such thing.
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