Kenny Rogers AI Bot : Androidal Xenophobia

Who’s actually a bit creepy tbh,in spite of the kindly old Boomer vibe. Looks a bit like this guy:

I think they want to do anthropomorphising – but you don’t do it like that. If it’s too close to an actual human, then a different set of circuits kicks in, and you get something closer to xenophobia.

It’s the Scary Clown factor. Having the back of his head missing with loads of wires visible doesn’t help – he needs some sort of comb-over. Or a hat. Or just a back of a head. Would it really have been that hard? Give the guy a head-back. It’s inhumane.

This is how you do empathy:

cardboard robot1

cardboard robot2

cardboard bot 3

There are loads of them… but you get the idea.

cardboard robot4

It’s almost like our brains have to know that they’re “filling the gaps”… to know that it’s just playing. It’s non-verbal communication coming in via eyes I think. That’s where it goes wrong. Maybe they should give him some sunglasses.

Anthropomorphism is highly reflexive/instinctive I think, but if something is too close to “life” then I think instincts that are to do with revulsion to dead-things starts creeping in.

6 Comments » for Kenny Rogers AI Bot : Androidal Xenophobia
  1. Best articulation of the uncanny valley I’ve heard yet. Right on.

  2. roid says:

    i’m glad you mention xenophobia. Coz that’s more of a “i’m scared of people who look different to people i normally interact with” kindof thing – a throwback from our tribal warfare days.
    But what if kids grow up interacting with robots like this?

    I mean i’m reminded of how babies are born able to recognise the individual faces of other animals (such as monkey faces), but after some time they lose that wide-angle ability and can only tell apart individuals with human faces. What i’m saying is that the uncanny valley is probably a learned thing, and if our society eventually exposes our babys to robots like this with strange expressions – they may become accustomed to it and there’d be no uncanny valley.

  3. Nick Taylor says:

    Maybe… maybe our Scary Puppet Syndrome is learned from movies etc… rather than a hard-wired instinctive revulsion for dead things. The revulsion circuits go pretty deep though. I mean obviously back in our distant past, we had a real problem with snakes and spiders.

  4. Gian Carlo M says:

    Check Boxie from MIT Media Lab

  5. Nick Taylor says:

    Ahh… Boxie – that was the one I was trying to find when I googled “cardboard box robot” and found all those other ones. Boxie is better. Boxie IS an actual robot.

  6. Yikes!!! a people zoo?
    Yeah, i’m defiantly going to want that thing in my house.