I'm Bob Karson with the discovery files -- new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.
There's an interesting phenomenon that occurs when humans look at a representation of a human designed to be as human-like as possible -- revulsion. (SOUND EFFECT: cartoon music) in other words, we can look at a distorted caricature or cartoon human, and we're ok. But come close to an almost true representation -- a computer animation or an android -- and it creeps us out a little.
The effect was brought to light some 30 years ago, and was termed, "the uncanny valley" by a Japanese researcher. It deals with a brain reaction we experience seeing a human form that's both realistic and unrealistic at the same time.
Recent Princeton research theorizes that there may be an evolutionary or biological reason for this reaction and that it isn't necessarily a humans-only thing. In a study with macaque monkeys, the team discovered that they too experience the uncanny valley. When the monkeys were shown almost-real representations of monkeys, they looked away, or became frightened. (SOUND EFFECT: macaque sounds)
So if there is a built-in biological reason for this -- what is it? Although there are numerous theories, we still don't know.
Have you experienced the uncanny valley?
I imagine it's the same reaction I get when I look at myself in the mirror first thing in the morning.
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