Why Robots Scare Their Masters

One of the most talked about subjects in robotics today is the uncanny valley hypothesis. So many works of speculative fiction feature robots in relationships with humans that it’s become a cliche, but this idea states that there’s a dip in the graph of human comfort levels when they approach machines that look too much like people. Devices that are disturbingly close to organic life forms often repulse human observers. However, the emotional response becomes far more positive as the machine becomes even closer to humanity.

The term comes from a robotics professor named Masahiro Mori, who referred to the idea as Bukimi no Tani Gensho. This hypothesis was linked to the much earlier essay “On the Psychology of the Uncanny,” which had been completed by Ernst Jentsch in 1906. Even Sigmund Freud‘s 1919 essay “Das Unheimliche” has been linked with the idea that humans are repulsed by devices that are too close to humans.

Several Japanese and Korean companies have built robots that are eerily close to their creators. People are often unsettled when they view images of these androids. Overcoming the uncanny valley opens up a new can of worms. A society in which people are indistinguishable from machinery would be filled with ethical quandaries.

Image Credit: Posterwire.com

Post Navigation