Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe
marypcb

If you wear black polyester, are you the best person to jump the uncanny valley?

Here come the Cylons: Hiroshi Ishiguro is making realistic android copies of people. This is a mix of fascinating (I still have the notes I made for a short story with exactly this kind of animatronic android used to fake someone's death back in the 80s), fascinating (the theory that mirror neurons can make the human feel some of what the android should when touched) and downright bizarre. Ishiguro may be right that the uncanny valley (the dip in how comfortable we are interacting with something artificial as it goes from not at all human to not human enough) is simplistic - Colin Angle of iRobot told me the company avoided anthropomorphising their robots only to find customers did it anyway. But while I know someone who always wears black to make getting dressed easier, this conversation still made me laugh.

 Ishiguro is wearing aviator sunglasses, black polyester pants, a black vest on top of a black shirt, along with a black belt, socks, and shoes.

”Give me question,” he says, his eyes fixed on the road.

I ask whether he always dresses in black.

”Why do you change your clothes?” he says. ”Do you change your name? So why do you change your clothes? Name is identity. Face is identity. But the majority of your [appearance] comes from your clothes. You should not change your clothes. Do you agree?”

I meekly suggest that all-black attire might get a bit hot in the summer.

”We have air conditioners,” he says. ”Next question.”

Tags: articles, ft, robot, technology, writing
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