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Scylla Rhiadra

Descent into the Uncanny Valley: Fear and Loathing in the Vanity Threads

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14 hours ago, Rhonda Huntress said:

That uncomfortable feeling of not wanting to stare but unable to look away.  That is the uncanny valley.  As we have seen with other examples all through here, you can easily get out of that valley to a point where we still know it is not real but it also no longer makes you uncomfortable to look at it.

Yes, we have to be a bit careful with how we define "Uncanny Valley". There are certainly avatars I find downright ugly and scary in SL but never because they are too close to reality. It's more like Plastic Doll Valley - and occasionally the Thatcher effect.

But:

21 minutes ago, Coby Foden said:

The statue looks like real human, the avatar looks too "smooth" and doll like.

I don't think either look real to be honest and the reason is partly that they are side by side, partly because neither fit the surroundings. We never see what we think we see, it's all about how our brains interpret the data and it is very much holistic. The brain establishes a context for the wntire picture and anything that can't be fitted into the context will stand out and look wrong. If you put a real human in a cartoon, the he (or she) that ends up lookign unrealistic, not the cartoon.

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, animats said:

Yes. As you get the models close to realistic, other flaws become more obvious. Motion is next.

Oh, that too. There are three things that really creep me out every time in SL. One is the upside down smile that still is so fashionable among the fashionbale. That's instant Thatcher effect to me - especially when it's on child avatars.

The other two are both about about movement: fitted mesh hair and those slowly rotating tree branches and plants.

Movement is not an SL specific problem though, it's something all virtual realities struggle with. Here's a very good example from Unity. The first time I watched this video, I was absolutely blown away. It looked so great and I wished we could have something like that in SL or Sansar. But then there was a closeup of the vines and suddenly the scene jumped from pure idyll to Hitchcock movie.

 

Edited by ChinRey
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17 hours ago, Rhonda Huntress said:

This is what is people often call "uncanny."

repliee-q2.jpg

Human's are pre-wired to see simulacrums in everything.  We want to find the face in the clouds or Jesus on a tortilla or whatever.  But when confronted with something like this which is supposed to be a face but is clearly not ... it flips that "ewwww" switch because we don't know what caused this horrible disfigurement.  It a feeling of empathy and pathos for another person.  That uncomfortable feeling of not wanting to stare but unable to look away.  That is the uncanny valley.  As we have seen with other examples all through here, you can easily get out of that valley to a point where we still know it is not real but it also no longer makes you uncomfortable to look at it.

Ugly? Yes.

Uncomfortable? No, not for me. I don't have it in me. I understand that others have feelings and emotions about it.

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Posted (edited)

I've never felt the uncanny valey effect, it's too hard because Hollywood movies have been doing the 3D thing for decades, and fully digital ray-traced movies also. This is what I see in these photographs, etc.: just another 3D facsimile image.

If anything, I would say the theories brought out in the movie Ex Mechina are what are at play: you know it is synthetic, it looks synthetic, it feels synthetic, but can you still fall in love with it? (I forget what that theory is called, but it is mentioned early on in the movie).

Edited by Alyona Su
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For increased brain breakage, tie a sexual outlet to rendered or art content, persevere and repeat frequently.

A good progress indicator is when your dreams start to match your rendered / art content of choice.

 

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Posted (edited)
On 6/7/2019 at 11:16 PM, Scylla Rhiadra said:
On 6/7/2019 at 5:41 PM, Madelaine McMasters said:

I've long wondered what me might learn from looking at the uncanny valley in reverse. Are there psychological characteristics in people that correlate to how, and how much, they react to the incongruities that constitute "uncanny"?

I think for sure this must be true. And the reasons are probably enormously complex, relating to environment, experience, as well as, possibly, innate psychological traits? It would certainly explain why, as some have noted here (and see Marianne's post), not everyone responds the same way to, or even necessarily perceives, the uncanny effect.

Right. I can imagine that people with Autism, who can have difficulty reading emotional cues from faces, might be less responsive to things commonly considered by the rest of us to reside in the uncanny valley.

On 6/7/2019 at 11:16 PM, Scylla Rhiadra said:
On 6/7/2019 at 5:41 PM, Madelaine McMasters said:

Over the years I've met a few real people who've triggered my creep detector. One of them was a young boy, twenty years ago. After seeing him for barely a moment, during which he said nothing, my father and I both concluded that he was going to be "nothing but trouble". In a discussion after the encounter, we determined that the movement of his eyes was what triggered that feeling.

I probably have too, but I'm not sure I identified it at the time as related to the uncanny valley effect. But this may relate to what I said above about it being a sort of evolutionary development, a way of spotting something that might be dangerous?

There are many theories to explain the uncanny valley feeling. Threat detection, cognitive dissonance and empathy seem highly plausible to me. Those mechanisms work subconsciously and very quickly. Some of the theories go too far for me, involving religion, or other philosophical concepts that require too much thinking. Robots that look too much like humans are theorized by some to evoke the UV response because they're a threat to human individuality. Well, what about robot dogs that look too much like real dogs? No real dog has ever threatened my concept of human individuality, but the moment a robot starts to behave like the neighbor dog that bit me in the ass, I'm gonna run.

On 6/7/2019 at 11:16 PM, Scylla Rhiadra said:
On 6/7/2019 at 5:41 PM, Madelaine McMasters said:

A year or two ago, I learned that the boy had grown into a violent criminal. And I'm now left to wonder if we'd correctly assessed some inner evil, or whether the young man is the sad victim of a lifetime of misapprehension by others due to some small defect in the way his eyes look or move, coupled with an inability to deal with it.

Hmmm. Or a version of confirmation bias? We remember instances where the reality tended to confirm our gut (and probably irrational) responses, and forget the myriad of other occasions where it does not?

Sure. Could also be Dunning-Kruger.

Dad and I both had a visceral response to that boy, worth of a discussion afterwards. The old saw about the eyes being the window to the soul has significant physiological underpinnings. I have female friends who express dismay over seeing men engage their boobs before their eyes. Those women, and my birthmarked iris friend, live in a world where they actually prime the environment to produce uncanny valley effects.

Here's a thought experiment for ya. Imagine cam-perving around an SL nightclub where, when your camera gets close enough to an avatar's face, their eyes immediately point directly into your camera. Gonna hang around?

Here's a pic of Snugs and me. Besides hair color and the orientation of our Anne Francis moles and mismatched earrings, both faces and expressions are identical. Only the face direction and gaze angle is different between the two. Maddy is looking right at you, fully engaged. Snugs is looking at you askance, judging you, very much like Pope Innocent X in the background has judged me, and written it all down on a list. It's all in the eyes.

776034728_SnugsandMaddy.jpg.dc87c8f194a458363b939f1baaaa42bd.jpg

 

On 6/7/2019 at 11:16 PM, Scylla Rhiadra said:
On 6/7/2019 at 5:41 PM, Madelaine McMasters said:

This uncanny feeling isn't always unpleasant though. When seeing Rembrandt's "The Night Watch" many years ago, my ex-hubby and I both felt an otherworldliness we could not describe. We felt it even more when viewing a smaller painting of a man sitting at a table, lit by a candle. We both felt as though we were looking into a scene that was alive, which is approximately the opposite of most uncanny valley experiences.

I really like art that does the opposite -- that deliberately, I suppose, creates an effect something like the uncanny valley by violating the usual visual/artistic codes that we use to create realism. So, Dali is often kind of creepy because his paintings are both "realistic," and at the same time weirdly "not right." But one of my favourite examples is Giorgio de Chirico's "Melancholy and Mystery of a Street," where the deliberate messing up of the rules of linear perspective plays a huge role, I think, in making this eerie and more than a little sinister.

Chirico Melancholy and Mystery of a Street - Blank.jpg

While I sense the sinister in that painting, I'd consider that foreshadowing, not the uncanny valley effect (though all this stuff is part of our scene analysis). The feeling that my ex-hubby and I got from both "Night Watch" and that smaller painting was that we were not looking at paintings, but rather a live scene somehow frozen in time. We perceived no threat in either image, in fact the candle lit man at the table was quite inviting. Yet there was a feeling that he might be alive, and about to acknowledge at us at any moment. If there was any inclination for me to look away, it was because I felt like a peeping Jane.

Though I have lost touch with my old friends at Pixar, I was truly impressed by their attention to detail, much of which follows from the pioneering work of Disney's "Nine Old Men".

Edited by Madelaine McMasters
Forgot the damned pic of Snugs and Me!

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7 hours ago, ChinRey said:

Oh, that too. There are three things that really creep me out every time in SL. One is the upside down smile that still is so fashionable among the fashionbale. That's instant Thatcher effect to me - especially when it's on child avatars.

The other two are both about about movement: fitted mesh hair and those slowly rotating tree branches and plants.

Movement is not an SL specific problem though, it's something all virtual realities struggle with. Here's a very good example from Unity. The first time I watched this video, I was absolutely blown away. It looked so great and I wished we could have something like that in SL or Sansar. But then there was a closeup of the vines and suddenly the scene jumped from pure idyll to Hitchcock movie.

Yep. We've grown up in nature and know what "natural" movement is like. If you see a tree moving in a way that is unnatural, the cognitive dissonance sends your subconscious searching for a cause. And we've a propensity to think that causes are intelligent and absent evidence to the contrary... nefarious.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

Yep. We've grown up in nature and know what "natural" movement is like. If you see a tree moving in a way that is unnatural, the cognitive dissonance sends your subconscious searching for a cause. And we've a propensity to think that causes are intelligent and absent evidence to the contrary... nefarious.

I didn't think of it when I posted that video but even though there are no avatars there, it may actually illustrate exactly what Uncanny Valley is all about. It's not about whether something (or someone) is ugly or pretty or realistic or not. It's that one tiny detail that doesn't fit the context. Our brains are hardwired to notice such things, it's an old survival trait. On a vast stretch of peaceful savannah our ancestors (that is the early humans who survived long enough to have offspring) instantly noticed those few blades of grass the lion lying in ambush disturbed.

Edited by ChinRey
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On 6/6/2019 at 4:13 PM, Scylla Rhiadra said:

 

Neithan

 

This looks to me more like a painting by a very skilled artist, rather than a photograph of a real person. 

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On 6/6/2019 at 10:23 AM, Dean Haystack said:

For me is the hair before anything else, then everything follows.

Even something like this is not quite there yet and this one is several levels above.

 

death-stranding-1-2-1024x576.jpg

If that's at all creepy to me, it's not because of a near miss in replicating a human face. The lighting, tears, slightly open mouth and closed eyes would probably raise the same alarms if I encountered them in RL. If the intent of the image's creator was to evoke the emotional response I'm having, then s/he's well up on "canny hill".

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22 hours ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

Right. I can imagine that people with Autism, who can have difficulty reading emotional cues from faces, might be less responsive to things commonly considered by the rest of us to reside in the uncanny valley.

Here's a thought experiment for ya. Imagine cam-perving around an SL nightclub where, when your camera gets close enough to an avatar's face, their eyes immediately point directly into your camera. Gonna hang around?

 

1: I think some people are overreacting with this Uncanny Valley, but they are not having a diagnosis.

2: Haha, you mean that question for real? As a long time camera perv, I can say: Yes, I am gonna hang around.

We are different.

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Posted (edited)
On 6/7/2019 at 9:16 PM, Scylla Rhiadra said:

I think for sure this must be true. And the reasons are probably enormously complex, relating to environment, experience, as well as, possibly, innate psychological traits? It would certainly explain why, as some have noted here (and see Marianne's post), not everyone responds the same way to, or even necessarily perceives, the uncanny effect.

I probably have too, but I'm not sure I identified it at the time as related to the uncanny valley effect. But this may relate to what I said above about it being a sort of evolutionary development, a way of spotting something that might be dangerous?

Hmmm. Or a version of confirmation bias? We remember instances where the reality tended to confirm our gut (and probably irrational) responses, and forget the myriad of other occasions where it does not?

 

This thread has been fascinating.  Everyone has been sensitive to different things and had different thresholds.

My two cents:  The robot picture Rhonda Huntress posted on page 2 is the only one I'd seen yet in this thread (as of the bottom of page 2) that hit my "wait, what?" button.  I interpret my reaction as a threat assessment, triggered by some combination of inappropriate body language and tension in the face.  But I couldn't assess if it's the instinct of my species or the training of my life's experience.  I suspect the posts on page 3 have it:  It's the savannah instinct ChinRey and others supposed.  Molded by the positive and negative results of my experience.

Edited by LibGwen
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On 6/8/2019 at 7:06 AM, Marianne Little said:
On 6/7/2019 at 1:13 PM, Rhonda Huntress said:

This is what is people often call "uncanny."

repliee-q2.jpg

Ugly? Yes.

Uncomfortable? No, not for me. I don't have it in me. I understand that others have feelings and emotions about it.

Well of course she doesn't make you feel uncomfortable...

2023745835_MarianneLittle.jpg.8495c0c4f1e87edc3c1153ad3e546fd0.jpg

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Posted (edited)

ROBOT:

iikura_face.jpg

 

Apparently, the Japanese Sex Doll industry has it going on. :)

(Source NSFWhttp://www.japaneserealsexdoll DOT com/product/ikura/ - these are all synthetic robots, people. SL and this? Not even close.)

EDIT: I *tried* like hell to remove the automatic linking, just don't click on the link unless you are of legal age in your jurisdiction. (Copy the URL and change DOT to . )

Edited by Alyona Su

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45 minutes ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

You post NSFW and a broken link?

You're a damned tease, Alyona!

Maybe just change “dot” to “.”.

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6 minutes ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

I'd rather complain.

And state obvious! I got cranky with someone earlier who didn’t “get me”, then I got over it. Isn’t this fun?

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

You post NSFW and a broken link?

You're a damned tease, Alyona!

LOL As @Love Zhaoying says. :P

The real shock isn't as much how scary-realistic they look (and function, apparently) but the prices. Hahahaha

Edited by Alyona Su

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7 minutes ago, Alyona Su said:

LOL As @Love Zhaoying says. :P

The real shock isn't as much how scary-realistic they look (and function, apparently) but the prices. Hahahaha

Hooollleeee mother of god, those are expensive. But, you heard it here..

As good as a real woman

🤣🤣🤣🤣

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5 minutes ago, Eva Knoller said:

As good as a real woman

   ... But does it cook and clean?

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3 minutes ago, Orwar said:

   ... But does it cook and clean?

Oh you! I didn’t see that on the website, but you never know.

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On 6/6/2019 at 4:05 PM, Scylla Rhiadra said:

So, last night I took, and posted here (and on Flickr) an up-close portrait of my avatar. I was pretty sure it was maybe the best "portrait" I'd ever taken of an avatar: it's well-composed, competently (if a little unimaginatively) lit, very detailed, and with a nice sense of "depth."

This morning, over my coffee, I opened my computer and looked at the pic again, and my first response was something an awful lot like actual revulsion.

I hate it.

To be clear, I don't need to be reassured that it's a good photo. Objectively, I know that it's a pretty good, or at least highly competent, pic. And I know that I have a reasonably attractive avatar. It's also not at all unusual for me to dislike a photo I've taken a day or so after I've taken it: all the flaws in the pic, or in my avatar, tend to leap out at me.

But this was something different from that familiar feeling. And thinking about, I think I finally put my finger on it: I think it's the Uncanny Valley effect. I think the picture is photorealistic enough that it looks nearly like a photo of a real person, but in some sort of way creepily "not right," like an alien impersonation of a human.

And then it occurred to me that, as SL has become more and more "realistic" over the years, we all should be getting smacked in the face by the Uncanny Valley effect nearly all the time, and especially on Flickr or in the vanity threads here, which tend to place a high premium on realism.

So, I'm actually not really interested in responses to my own photo in this context (which is why I haven't posted or linked to it here). And maybe I'm wrong about the source of my distaste for that pic anyway: it may just be that I'm just responding to my perception that the eyes are too far apart and the nose a bit too pointy.

But I am very interested to hear if anyone here has ever experienced this effect in SL, either in-world, or through the pics posted here.

Is the Uncanny Valley a "thing" in SL?

 

Yes, a thousand times yes, which is why i've been staying away from a lot of the SL "next gen" body parts. So many people I spend time with have this "dead fish" look...

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