TIL The Uncanny Valley

TIL (Today I Learned) about the uncanny valley while talking to a couple of my friends about Tron 2. Apparently some of the computer animation in Tron 2 falls into the uncanny valley, aka the CGI humans are creepy looking.

The uncanny valley is a term used in robotics and computer animation when a robot is so humanlike people begin to judge it more like an inadequate human, and less like a impressively humanlike robot. It’s at this stage when the robot or CGI begins to look creepy or repulsive.

The reason we find almost, but not quite fully humanlike robots creepy is unknown. However, one theory is that at this stage of realism, our animal instincts kick in and ask, “what is wrong with this person!? Stay away from them! They might be diseased, dangerous, or at the minimum, incredibly socially awkward.” However, human caricatures, such as the humans in the movie the Incredibles, are obviously not real humans, but have humanlike qualities. This allows our imagination to fill the gaps with what qualities these characters would have, were they real.

That’s the gist of the uncanny valley. For a better synopsis, check out this short video on the subject and how it relates to video games.

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