Episode 061- ACGT/0101: AI and the Uncanny Valley

How does it make you feel when somebody stares at you?

An unflinching stare.  Angry?  Scared?  Anxious?  All of the above?  How about when said eyes belong to a doll?  Depends on the doll, really.  If it’s obviously fake, then it’s not a problem, but what if it’s really life-like? 

The “uncanny valley” is a term that refers to a graphic representation of how comfortable we are with unreal faces.  They can get closer and closer to human and we like them more until….they cross a threshold and then…

let’s say we’re less than happy with them.

This is why people get creeped out by dolls or ventriloquist dummies, or human-styled robots or androids.  This territory is great fodder for horror stories.  The potential for dolls to come to life, or artificial intelligence (AI) or robots getting a software glitch (or even evolving) and turning on us is a great trope to scare people with.

We can also explore our relationship with humanity and technology with great story-telling.  In this episode I talk about AI and the uncanny valley, and how horror has used these techniques to tell some interesting stories.

I hope you enjoy the episode.

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Movies discussed:

Blade Runner (1982)

Hardware (1990)

Tourist Trap (1979)

Pin (1988)

Magic (1978)

Westworld (1973)

Ex Machina (2014)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

The Terminator (1984)

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2 replies »

  1. Just discovered your podcast. Listening to this episode as we speak . . . this is fantastic! Definitely gonna go back through your archives. Any recs off the top of your head in which you talk specifically about horror in the written word?

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