The Uncanny Valley of Robotics
The “uncanny valley” is a term coined by roboticist Masahiro Mori in 1970 to describe a very odd phenomenon. He observed that totally non-human robots (think Wall-E, or assembly-line robots) are appealing to people, and regular humans or very convincing robots are pleasant as well. Most robots that fall in the middle appear pretty harmless too. But robots that are just on the verge of looking like a humanoid creep people out, big time. That range - clearly not a robot, but not quite human - is called the Uncanny Valley. There’s been a ton of interesting research about the uncanny valley, including the finding that movement enhances the response (makes robots more empathetic, makes pseudo-humans much creepier). Additionally, there have been a bunch of proposed evolutionary reasons for why we find a not-quite-likeness so threatening. Personally, I just love this graph:
Anonymous asked: Please, as simply as possible, explain how is evolution fact. How does nothing + something somehow produce everything? I’m not trying to start an argument, but truly searching for greater understanding. The things you post are incredible! Putting them together here on tumblr as…
Back up explanations/inspiration for your ethics class Franly!
Amazing moth mimicry discovered in Malaysia
Loyal followers will know that one of my favorite topics in biology is mimicry - the evolution of structures that mimic other animals or plants to befuddle predators, attract pollinators, or catch prey. Here’s a puzzling case, snapped by Allan Lee in Malaysia. It’s a specimen of the species Macrocilix maia, with a distinct image of two files on its wings. A moth, whose wings normally mimic bird droppings to blend into the forest, has never been with such an amazing pattern, and it seems a bit counterintuitive. If the moth is supposed to be avoiding predators, then why would it mimic some fellow prey?