On Jan 1, 3:03 am, John Clark <johnkcl...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sat, Dec 31, 2011 Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >The problem is that the logic of comp doesn't seem to have a reason to
> > invent a revulsion response associated with increasing fidelity of
> > simulation when the whole point of comp is interchangeability and
> > simulation.
> Evolution has given us a very powerful ability to deduce emotional states
> of our fellow human beings from very subtle facial expressions, this is
> important because it gives us clues about the likely behavior of other
> people. If it's obviously a cartoon then we don't even try to use this
> ability and just sit back and enjoy the show, but if it is a very very good
> rendering then we do start to use this ability, but if it's not perfect
> then the facial cues we read don't entirely make sense to us and are
> contradictory, real people don't move their face like that, at least not
> sane ones. We can't figure out what's going on in their head like we
> usually can so they seem creepy and a bit frightening. That's OK if you're
> trying to animate a Jack the Ripper type character but otherwise it's a
The effect isn't limited to human beings or facial cues though.
Taxidermy and wax museums elicit the same response. I agree that the
ability to detect behavioral mismatches would be good candidate for
natural selection success, but this is more than that. This is about
something that is not alive impersonating something that is. The
revulsion that is felt is not one of mere tactical vigilance, but
disgust, like eating plastic food. It's a visceral response not only
to the deception but the offensive somatic nature of the deception.
The body is recoiling at seeing the clarity and significance of the
boundary between life and death tampered with. It's a second level of
deception which perceives a hint of an unholy motive that defiles the
sanctity of living flesh. This is what our fantasies of 'the undead'
are about. Zombies, vampires, etc are not merely creepy because they
aren't quite normal looking, it's that they are associated with the
perversion of and disrespect for animal life. The blood. This is
invariably interpreted to mean the loss of soul, damnation, black
magic, Satan, Frankenstein etc.
HAL is the opposite, but nearly identical archetype. The disembodied
non-sentience of mechanism. The creepiness of HAL arises not from
carnal blasphemy, but from a-signifying idealism. "I Can't Do That,
Dave" is chilling because there is only a mask of reason with nothing
to reason with behind the mask. It is not a matter of a supercomputer
stumbling around hungering insatiable for others braaains, it is the
very articulate sophistication of this artificial mind which means to
isolate and neutralize other brains which threaten it. HAL has no
supernatural connotations, but like other face-wearing robots or
aliens, their impersonation is cause enough to elicit disgust.
Remember the imposter android crew member in the movie Alien?
That character had no uncanny attributes. The disgust comes all the
same though, with the milky white bloodlessness and the violence of
its sudden reveal. What is creepy is the idea of knowing that he
wasn't human all that time but you couldn't tell. This is what the
uncanny valley is about. Not just evolutionary psychology but the
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