Marquise Casati by Man Ray, 1922. What do we project upon the inanimate object? Something as simple as a blurry portrait can unsettle us, and we believe we've seen the beyond...

[The Uncanny Valley]

An Introduction

The uncanny valley is a phenomenon named and first studied by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in the 1970s. He observed this response to robots and later applied his principle to responses to puppets, corpses, and prosthetic limbs.

Humanoids Among Us...

This site looks at different robots, androids, zombies, video game characters, and dolls and examines where each of these fits into the uncanny valley. This is not a comprehensive study; it is an overview of some remarkable non-human entities, investigating what makes them so strange and yet so compelling...

I, Robot: What Does the Uncanny Valley Say About Us?

We see the uncanny response more and more in the modern world. Robots are being created with increasingly human features. Computer animation is quickly becoming indistinguishable from real video. Artificial intelligence looms at the horizon... Even with A.I. a long way off, the uncanny valley response is a good indication of how much we fear and anticipate the possibility. Since we are responding only to a projection of what we hide within, what does the uncanny valley say about our murkiest thoughts and desires?

Psychology of the Uncanny...

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, uncanny is defined as "not quite safe to trust to, or have dealings with, as being associated with supernatural arts or powers." It is not surprising to associate such a word with zombies and science fiction androids, but would we distruct a machine of our own making? Is this guilt over attempting to play god? Freud studied this concept, and said that "when something that we have hitherto regarded as imaginary appears before us in reality" we experience an uncanny effect. It seems that the uncanny quality of androids and dolls may derive from our perceiving them as human, only to be made aware of our mistake upon closer inspection.

E 38-14-92 by Gerd Bonfert, 1992. Seventy years after Man Ray, the distorted portrait can still evoke terror. Wherever we look, there our monsters are.
Pseudo-science or Gut Instinct?

The uncanny valley is often referred to in scientific terms, but little empirical research has been done on the topic. Some scientists claim that there is no evidence for much of the graph made by Mori. Despite this, the uncanny valley principle is widely accepted by robotic researchers and laypersons alike.