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The Tipping Point of Humanness

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the isn't-that-uncanny dept.

Science 272

sciencehabit writes "Robert Zemeckis, take note. Using videos that morph the face of a baby or man into a doll, researchers have figured out at what point we stop considering a face human — and start considering it artificial. The ability, the researchers say, is key to our survival, enabling us to quickly determine whether the eyes we're looking at have a mind behind them. It may also explain why so many people hated The Polar Express."

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272 comments

inb4 patent (-1, Offtopic)

Senes (928228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652328)

Let's all have one big group prayer that this method of creating a human-like face doesn't end up becoming the property of some patent troll.

Re:inb4 patent (0)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652370)

You didn't even read TFS (the summary), did you?

well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34652360)


I want a real human-like face for my RealDoll.

Then it'd be less like having sex with a doll and more like real rape.

.

LOTR (2)

DubThree (1963844) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652380)

"It may also explain why so many people hated The Polar Express."
It may also explain why so many people loved the LOTR trilogy (Gollum).

Re:LOTR (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652596)

I didn't hate The Polar Express, but it wasn't exactly very memorable.

The simulated Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy is pretty decent, though they should have put a little more work into getting his mouth to move naturally when speaking. Any single frame looks just like Jeff Bridges sure, but when it's all put together the effect is still a little stiff.

Re:LOTR (5, Funny)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652674)

Any single frame looks just like Jeff Bridges sure, but when it's all put together the effect is still a little stiff.

I've noticed a similar issue when watching Nicholas Cage and Keanu Reeves movies.

Re:LOTR (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652778)

I've noticed a similar issue when watching Nicholas Cage and Keanu Reeves movies.

Whoa!

Re:LOTR (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652832)

He would've been a better actor if he'd just gotten more memory.

Re:LOTR (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652730)

Actually, the effect would have worked just fine if they'd only used it for Clu. After all, Clu was supposed to be a corrupted, visual simulation.

The problem is, they used the effect for that first "Sam as a kid" scene as well, which just didn't look right.

Re:LOTR (1)

Phoenixlol (1549649) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652782)

I tried real hard to find flaws in his appearance as I'd heard people complain and came to the same conclusion as you. I found it hardly noticible though. Had it not been pointed out to me that people didn't like the Clu 2 cgi I probably wouldn't have noticed the uncanny valley. Then again, it worked for me in the movie because he WAS a program.

Re:LOTR (1)

trum4n (982031) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653078)

I think that was the point. He isn't Jeff. He's CLU. He is a simulation.

Re:LOTR (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653436)

They also used it for young Jeff at the start of the movie, and in the flashbacks..

Re:LOTR (2)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653122)

I'll agree. It wasn't the visual design that did it for me, it was the animation.

Looking at the CG face, it *looked* perfectly human, but it didn't move very naturally, and that moved it from perfect into uncanny valley for me.

From behind-the-scenes imagery, it looks like they used a multi-camera head rig with visible-light tracking points (not many cameras, though). There are some shortcomings to this sort of system, and it seems like on top of that they over-interpolated the motion data...

From what I've seen of Depth Analysis's MotionScan system (ironically, the first and so far only use of this system is for a videogame), it does a much better job at producing realistic motion. If Tron Legacy had come out a few months later, it's possible that they might have been able to use MotionScan, and avoided the uncanny valley entirely.

Re:LOTR (1)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653328)

After Tron: Legacy I told my son Clu's face was very Oblivionesque. I can't decide if they didn't spend enough money/time working on it or they were simply screwed by being up against the uncanny valley.

Re:LOTR (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652808)

Exactly; Gollum was one of the most expressive and real CGI characters I've ever seen.

Re:LOTR (4, Interesting)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653204)

That's because he was 25% CGI and 75% Andy Serkis.

Don't Be Too Proud Of This Technological Terror... (4, Insightful)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653066)

LotR is based on a seminal work of fantasy literature for all ages, read by generations of readers over the decades. So it is fair to say that it already had an established fan-base.
It also featured a whole lot of "real people" actors, most of them of a rather high caliber.

Polar Express is based on a 1980's children's book, based around a character created by Coca Cola's marketing division.
A character that has since then grown into a symbol of consumerism like no other.
Oh, and the animation sucked.

Also, one features a HUGE universe and loads of heroic battles and quests, while the other features... well... public transportation.

Re:Don't Be Too Proud Of This Technological Terror (1)

ocdscouter (1922930) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653170)

Polar Express is based on a 1980's children's book, based around a character created by Coca Cola's marketing division. A character that has since then grown into a symbol of consumerism like no other. Oh, and the animation sucked.

Forgive me if I'm being daft, but could you elaborate on that a little?

Re:Don't Be Too Proud Of This Technological Terror (2)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653498)

I think he is alluding to the 1930s Coca-Cola marketing campaign in which the first depiction of Santa Clause as we know him now--the fat, jolly fellow with a white beard and a red and white suit (which incidentally were the colors of the Coca-Cola logo)--was introduced.

Depictions of Santa Clause prior to this varied in the colors and girth of the mythical person.

          -dZ.

Re:Don't Be Too Proud Of This Technological Terror (1)

DubThree (1963844) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653172)

Good point. It's not exactly apples-to-apples. But people wouldn't have been nearly as impressed with LOTR had the CGI characters been of Polar Express caliber.

Re:LOTR (4, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653068)

I've watched the Polar Express at least a dozen times (our 2 year old is really into trains at the moment). I think there is a problem with that movie besides just the rendering. Tom Hanks' acting was motion captured for practically every character, including the lead boy. Hanks has very specific mannerisms, and I don't think they were ideal for portrayal by CGI characters. For example, he does this stiff-necked type expression, where he keeps his neck stiff and rotates his whole torso part way towards the subject, then he looks at them out of the corner of his eyes (usually with a sort of bewildered expression). It's a very stiff motion, almost like he's wearing a neck brace. He does that several times in Polar Express, and it simply exacerbates the problem and makes the characters look more rigid and artificial. If anything they should have been slightly more articulate and dynamic to compensate for the negative expectations people would already have over the CGI.

I think it's also an issue of scaling. You can't just take an adult, have them pretend they are a child, scale them down to child-size, and have it look exactly right. The proportions and mechanics are wrong for one thing, besides the fact that kids naturally move and act like kids, and adults naturally act like adults.

Originally Hanks was even going to voice every single character, and voice affects would be applied to change the pitch, etc. In fact, there is a trailer floating around in which Hanks voiced the lead boy's voice, and it sounded horrible. I'm glad someone with enough clout was able to step in and convince Hanks otherwise without stepping on his toes too much. I think Polar Express demonstrated the same problem with the motion capture - everyone is drastically different in their motion and mannerism, and if you use one person to portray a dozen different people, then they will all look unnaturally similar. If your CGI movie has 5 lead roles, you need 5 people to act for motion capture, and 5 people to voice, and they should be cast just like for any "normal" movie. It's that simple.

Survival? (1)

TheL0ser (1955440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652392)

Maybe survival, but wouldn't you think that anything registering "close enough" wasn't too dangerous to spend more time looking at, and anything that wasn't human would be immediately recognizable? I don't think anyone's going to mistake a cheetah for a person. One says "possible friend" and the other says "you're dead before you realize it's a cheetah"

Re:Survival? (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652478)

I understand your confusion, but I think the point is that being able to easily differentiate between "real" looking and "not real" attests to our fine visual perception and quickness in determination. Compare this to other mammals who might not differentiate threats from non-threats so quickly.

Re:Survival? (4, Interesting)

avilliers (1158273) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652652)

The study has nothing to do with the point you are making. There is no real world situation where we encounter Polar Express level-of-competence simulacra and our life is threatened if we make an incorrect decision. Claiming "survival," let alone it being "key" to survival, is sloppy thinking by researchers who have apparently internalized some evolutionary pyschology memes.

This ability is presumably a side effect of other valuable mental skills, such as the ability to read facial expression and identify similar looking faces. Which is amazing and the subject of not much study, but no what this article is about and not what the experiment measured.

Re:Survival? (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652824)

This ability is presumably a side effect of other valuable mental skills, such as the ability to read facial expression and identify similar looking faces.

True or not, this hypothesis does bring another experiment to my mind - at what point do people suffering from prosopagnosia [wikipedia.org] not consider a face a face anymore? I.e. the same experiment but conducted with people who cannot recognize faces.

Re:Survival? (4, Informative)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652948)

There is no real world situation where we encounter Polar Express level-of-competence simulacra and our life is threatened if we make an incorrect decision

Today, yes.

In evolutionary past... there are lots of illnesses that cause people's minds to degrade (animal minds, too). The most common one that comes to mind is rabies [cdc.gov] , which also makes people and animals [peteducation.com] move in a somewhat zombielike, jerky fashion.

In the modern world, identifying a rabid animal isn't quite as needed, since vaccinations have helped to slow the spread of the disease via "herd immunity" even to the "wild", feral animals that live in many cities and urban areas. Go back a century or more, on the other hand, and identifying it early - in livestock, working dogs, and wild animals - was a much more necessary skill. Hell, identifying an infected food animal is important so as not to eat it.

And then there's African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), leprosy, Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob, transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (aka "kuru", "laughing sickness"), and other "prion" diseases.

Re:Survival? (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653426)

The ability to identify similar faces is important for survival -- the survival of your genes.

Re:Survival? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652780)

Thing is I looked at the pics in the article and while the shinier/glintier eyes make them look more human, a significant part of what made the faces look "more/less human" to me was the skin tone/texture. The ones on the right looked more plasticky/waxy.

Re:Survival? (2)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652526)

There's a brain disorder that causes people to be unable to recognize human faces. I wonder if the uncanny valley effect works on them, because clearly they are missing that survival function that you noted.

Prosopagnosia (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34652744)

It's called prosopagnosia. And yes, the uncanny valley works on them. They can see if something is human or not.

What they can't do is decide who the face they see belongs to. Al least not without detailed study of said face.

"Hmm, I see blue eyes with large lashes. A nose with some large pores. The chin is somewhat pointy. I'm guessing this is Jennifer. Oh wait, she wears the same shoes that Jennifer wore three months ago. Yes, I think it might very well be her."

Not exaggerated either.

Re:Prosopagnosia (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652844)

"Hmm, I see blue eyes with large lashes. A nose with some large pores. The chin is somewhat pointy. I'm guessing this is Jennifer. Oh wait, she wears the same shoes that Jennifer wore three months ago. Yes, I think it might very well be her."

Wow. That definitely deserves a top spot in the Big List of Awkward Things to Say Out Loud While Having Sex.

Re:Prosopagnosia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34652952)

Not being able to see an emotional response in others, or even just being able to recognize them has a severe impact on sexual relations for prosopagnosiacs.

Re:Survival? (2)

Phoenixlol (1549649) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652888)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosopagnosia [wikipedia.org] in case anyone is interested.
"Prosopagnosia (sometimes known as face blindness) is a disorder of face perception where the ability to recognize faces is impaired, while the ability to recognize other objects may be relatively intact. The term originally referred to a condition following acute brain damage, but recently a congenital form of the disorder has been proposed, which may be inherited by about 2.5% of the population. The specific brain area usually associated with prosopagnosia is the fusiform gyrus.
Few successful therapies have so far been developed for affected people, although individuals often learn to use 'piecemeal' or 'feature by feature' recognition strategies. This may involve secondary clues such as clothing, hair color, body shape, and voice. Because the face seems to function as an important identifying feature in memory, it can also be difficult for people with this condition to keep track of information about people, and socialize normally with others."

Fight back, my fellow hoomans (0)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652402)

This is EXACTLY what the machine has been tailoring for THOUSANDS OF YEARS (yes capital letters GET YOUR ATTENTION as they are the BASTION PILLARS OF TRUTH)-- Scientists for thousands of years have been performing careful CAD manipulations in an attempt to brainwash the common masses (that means you and me but not your grandboss).

Folks, (I call you folks because it establishes a connection between us as meatspace), You are being persuaded to analyze why artificial human faces are creepy, but the seedy underbelly is that we are REALLY being asked to publicly verify that they are getting CLOSER to HUMANOID PERFECTION. In a nutshell, the people that paid slashdot 5 million bucks for this link are ensuring that YOU (second person you) are ever so slightly just a little eroticized by these computer generated faces. And with that slippery slope comes the coleslaw wrestling of digital whoredom.

Folks, watch out for a nefarious bleak future where computer generated faces are the new future. Because before you know it, you will roll over in bed and that computer face will be YOUR WIFE.

Thanks for listening, and you all have a Merry Christmas. Now get back to running the clock down on your last day before a three day scotch melee. (I started mine a day early)

Re:Fight back, my fellow hoomans (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34652432)

Does it nag less than my current wife? If so, I might be willing to trade.

Re:Fight back, my fellow hoomans (1)

Ornlu (1706502) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652640)

Now get back to running the clock down on your last day before a three day scotch melee

Thats the best description of today's work I've ever heard.

Re:Fight back, my fellow hoomans (0)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652660)

Scientists for thousands of years have been performing careful CAD manipulations

How could scientists have been performing Computer Aided Drawings for thousands of years when the computer is less than a hundred years old?

Anyone who "attempts to brainwash the common masses" is NOT a scientist. WTF?

Now get back to running the clock down on your last day before a three day scotch melee. (I started mine a day early)

Oh, that explains it. I thought you were just trolling, sorry, my bad. If you were trying to make a joke, EPIC FAIL. This is slashdot. We're nerds. You're going to have to do a hell of a lot better than that.

Re:Fight back, my fellow hoomans (1)

ocdscouter (1922930) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653222)

To be fair, some nerds have lower standards than others. Not I, of course, but still...

Re:Fight back, my fellow hoomans (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653154)

Folks, watch out for a nefarious bleak future where computer generated faces are the new future. Because before you know it, you will roll over in bed and that computer face will be YOUR WIFE. Thanks for listening, and you all have a Merry Christmas.

It's a Christmas Miracle! I'm getting Married!

Uncanny valley (1)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652412)

Much as I enjoyed Tron: Legacy, young Flynn/Clu was just wrong enough to seriously creep me out. I think it was because some parts of his face didn't move right when he talked and smiled (cheeks and eyes).

Re:Uncanny valley (2)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652508)

For me, it was his mouth that seemed way off. Somehow, the motion of the lips moving either seems to be off-sync with the sound, or exaggeratedly tight-lipped.

Re:Uncanny valley (2)

hellfire (86129) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652634)

Although the movie wasn't a tour de force, I thought the "creepiness" of Clu's facial expressions was actually a plus, because he was supposed to be creepy, he's the bad guy! The theme was the attempt by Flynn at perfection, and you can see that perfection isn't perfect in Clu's face. However, it probably would have been a better idea to use makeup and a little digital retouching in the initial scenes for young Flynn. Obviously Tron: Legacy was trying to show what current technology could do compared to old technology, but outside the grid, use the real world technology to show real life rather than CGI, it would have been better.

Yo mamma's so fat (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34652426)

Yo mamma's so fat, the recursive function calculating her mass density had a stack overflow.

yes (0, Redundant)

Crociere Last Minute (1964446) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652458)

ciao by the

The Polar Express (1)

J-1000 (869558) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652462)

It has a few obnoxious scenes, but seeing The Polar Express in IMAX 3D was one of my favorite movie experiences. They really nailed the 3D aspect of it.

The Polar Express was a Cartoon (5, Funny)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652604)

No reason to hate the puppets. But this does give some indication as to why Nancy Pelosi makes so many people uneasy...

Re:The Polar Express was a Cartoon (2, Insightful)

gtall (79522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653218)

The uneasiness with Pelosi's look is the Deer-in-the-Headlights stare with the mechanical smile. You expect her to go postal when you turn your back.

Re:The Polar Express was a Cartoon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34653234)

Don't forget "Chipmunk" McCain...

Missing dimension (4, Insightful)

ColoradoAuthor (682295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652464)

Time. Consider our everyday conversations: "Ooh, he's creepy. He keeps looking at my stomach." "Look me in the eye and tell me that." "Watch that customer in the Jewelry department--he's got shifty eyes."

Examining static images of faces has limited (some, but limited) value. When we look at eyes, don't we immediately calculate *what they're looking at*? Much of our assessment of the character and intentions of people and animals seems to be based on how the eyes move.

You can't assess character (1, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652544)

You can't access character by watching a persons eyes or body language. That doesn't stop people from trying of course.

Re:You can't assess character (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34652656)

...said the unapologetic boob-starer.

Re:You can't assess character (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34652828)

...who stands WAY to close to you.

Re:You can't assess character (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34652714)

Citation please? Or could you at least explain why you feel that way? Or do you expect us to take your word as an axiom?

Re:You can't assess character (2)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652718)

Or as Shakespeare put it, "There's no art/To find the mind's construction in the face." That quote leaped to mind when I read your post.

Re:You can't assess character (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652738)

Did you mean "assess"? Otherwise your statement makes little sense to me. If you did, some people are REALLY good at assessing the average person's character by watching body language. I'm not good at it, but some are.

Of course, nobody can assess a sociopath''s character except a trained psychologist administering a test for the disorder.

Re:You can't assess character (2)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653248)

Of course, nobody can assess a sociopath''s character except a trained psychologist administering a test for the disorder.

Not necessarily so. The desire for political office, or any authority for that matter, is a pretty sure sign.

Re:You can't assess character (1)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652764)

But you can assess intentions. I wrestled in high school. Later as a coach, I could confidently instruct wrestlers to watch the opponents eyes, both in order to get an idea of their intentions and to never broadcast your move.

Someone's intentions give hints to their character.

Re:You can't assess character (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652788)

You can assess behavior and intent, however, which is much more important in the short term.

Re:You can't assess character (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652806)

You may not be able to do it 100%, but are you sure you can't do better than random?

Re:You can't assess character (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653016)

You can't access character by watching a persons eyes or body language. That doesn't stop people from trying of course

No, but you can assess what they're thinking and whether or not what they're saying is truthful. That can play a part in assessing their character if interaction occurs repeatedly and over a longer period of time.

Re:Missing dimension (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34652574)

Interestingly enough, the concept of the Uncanny Valley has two curves associated with it: one for static images or non-moving objects, and one for movies or animate objects. The two curves are similar, but the amplitude on the moving image curve is much greater. To your point, a non-moving corpse is not nearly as frightening as a moving one.

Re:Missing dimension (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34653094)

And don't forget the good old "something just isn't right about him". And it often has to do with the eyes - fetal alcohol syndrome, too much inbreeding and various mental disorders. Sure they are not ALL bad people, but in a dark alley, go with the odds...

Re:Missing dimension (1)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653118)

"Ooh, he's creepy. He keeps looking at my stomach."

I'm actually looking at your breasts. You might consider wearing a bra once in a while

Not "quite" human. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34652480)

Robert Zemeckis, take note. Using videos that morph the face of a baby or man into a doll, researchers have figured out at what point we stop considering a face human--and start considering it artificial.

So what does this say about managers?

Or Beowulf (1)

benwiggy (1262536) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652518)

It may also explain why Beowulf was a sack of shit.

However, it doesn't explain why you can feel strong empathy with the characters in Finding Nemo; and also why you find the facial expressions that pass for acting in some soaps so unhuman as to pass for furniture.

Re:Or Beowulf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34652584)

Because Finding Nemo's characters are meant to be comic like Goofy or Bambi; you can feel compassion for those characters regardless of what they look like. But if something is meant to look human and fails, it's just creepy.

Re:Or Beowulf (4, Interesting)

Speare (84249) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652654)

However, it doesn't explain why you can feel strong empathy with the characters in Finding Nemo

Scott McCloud has a fairly good chapter on this in his book, Understanding Comics. He demonstrates drawing-space as a three-variabled continuum, a triangle. It's been a while, but I think the points were something like complexity, abstractness, realism. But the crux of the matter was, the simpler the approximation, the more we could associate ourselves in that role, so it became more emotionally immersive. Dory and Nemo's dad were very simplified, abstractified, so we related better.

Re:Or Beowulf (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652750)

Precisely.

I thought it was an interesting retelling, but every few seconds my mind was switching back and forth between "I'm watching a cartoon" and "I'm watching actors". It was too close to the human/non-human line for me, and I found it vaguely disturbing. In the end, it made it a far less enjoyable experience than if they had just gone with cartoon characters.

I think Beowulf nailed the deepest part of the "uncanny valley" almost perfectly.

Re:Or Beowulf (4, Interesting)

thasmudyan (460603) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652878)

Exactly. We don't have any problem seeing emotional life-likeness in even very schematic comic characters, plush animals, and occasionally even objects that don't have a face at all. I'm willing to bet if tomorrow very strange aliens descended from the sky, having totally un-earthlike features, we would still connect with them emotionally without a problem, because we can learn to interpret non-human reactions and features. Yet somehow human characters that are "not quite right" irritate us.

Since even clearly perceived falseness doesn't trip us up at all when interacting with non-human characters, I hypothesize that the uncanny valley could actually be caused by a visual subsystem that deals with recognizing sickness and death in humans, triggering an involuntary repulsion that then is rationalized after the brain realizes it has this reaction mainly when looking at dolls. People do appear to have associations with death as they jokingly described the Polar Express as something reminiscent of a zombie movie. This is probably also the reason why zombie movies (where the undead don't look like live people with excessive makeup) are so effective. That legless zombie girl in "The Walking Dead" pilot creeped me out to no end...

Re:Or Beowulf (1)

tixxit (1107127) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653460)

Animators spend a lot of time and effort making animals and inanimate objects more human. Animators are great at boiling down human emotions, expressions, gestures, etc. into the most basic elements, while still being recognizable as such. It takes a great deal of skill in a very competitive field.

I'd say a better analogy would simply be cats and dogs. Very different; they don't smile, or laugh, but for the most part, neither have too much trouble getting their basic emotions across to their owners.

Re:Or Beowulf (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653276)

That's a great example; even a great story can't hide shit animation. It's why I always get the Pixar movies for my daughter; they care enough to spend shitloads of rendering time on their content, they even invented the best tools in the industry to generate it with, and you know the story won't leave you flat. It's why I avoid any of the DreamWorks animations; shit animation from people who could give a crap about the art form, and lack-luster stories that do leave a lot to the imagination.

Re:Or Beowulf (1)

BotnetZombie (1174935) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653364)

On the contrary, it exactly explains why you would like Finding Nemo and not Beowulf. The drawings in the former are colorful, with big expressions and not like reality at all. In other words, not anywhere near the uncanny valley. Beowulf characters are firmly in that valley, making you not like them.

Cindy Mccain anyone? (0)

mcsqueak (1043736) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652522)

I was wondering why I was so creeped out by every picture of her during the 2008 election. Those eye... wowzers. She looked like an android from a movie.

I thought people hated the Polar Express (2)

UDChris (242204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652598)

because it wasn't that great of a film. The 3D wasn't terrible, but most folks I know really didn't care for the story.

Re:I thought people hated the Polar Express (1)

Reece400 (584378) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652918)

I watched it last night on TV and the story was lame, but the kid's facial expressions were also damn creepy at times.

Homocentric bullshit? (5, Interesting)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652648)

My cats look directly and intently at my face every day, and it's obvious from the circumstances that they recognize that a mind with intent is attached to those eyes and they're eager to figure out what that intent might be (and whether it might adversely affect them). This is not at all a behavior exclusive to primates, much less humans. Presumably that means my cats would have hated The Polar Express, too. They're already annoyed by Tom Hanks' nasally voice.

Re:Homocentric bullshit? (2)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652792)

Face-watching is certainly not unique to humans, but the "uncanny valley" presumably is. Or if other species have a similar response, it's a lot harder to test.

We might well learn something if we could get a cat to respond to The Polar Express, but getting cats to do ANYTHING reliably in a behavioral study is a pain in the ass. You'd be better trying it on dogs.

For that matter, it would be interesting to see where the uncanny valley arises in observations of other species. Does can you get that creepy effect from a not-quite-right dog or cat? Humans anthropomorphize like crazy anyway, especially with faces, so much so that they've given it a name (pareidolia). I don't think cats experience that to the same degree.

Re:Homocentric bullshit? (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652834)

We might well learn something if we could get a cat to respond to The Polar Express, but getting cats to do ANYTHING reliably in a behavioral study is a pain in the ass. You'd be better trying it on dogs.

How are dogs any better? From everything I've seen, they will do whatever gives them the most treats.

Re:Homocentric bullshit? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653050)

For researchers, the fact that dogs go nuts for treats is a bonus. You can use it as an incentive to participate in the experiment. As opposed to cats, who will generally just ignore everything going on around them, treats or no.

It can be done. It's just more work.

Re:Homocentric bullshit? (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653138)

How are dogs any better? From everything I've seen, they will do whatever gives them the most treats.

Compared to most animals who either run away from humans or try to attack the humans or they ignore the humans, dogs' understanding that "If I do what that human likes I might get a reward" is an intellectual achievement orders of magnitude superior to other species.

Re:Homocentric bullshit? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34652840)

Are you sure you aren't anthropomorphizing your cats? Seriously, it's easier for humans to project personality on things that don't look like us but have similar "facial" features (two eyes, a mouth, etc).

With everything from animals to cars people will project personality onto them, but when something is supposed to be taken as a human at face value and isn't then we hit that Uncanny Valley.

Re:Homocentric bullshit? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34652992)

Domesticated animals watch faces. NOVA did an episode about this not long ago, with scientists that aren't Neal Degrasse Tyson and everything.

Re:Homocentric bullshit? (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653088)

You need to consider that scent is as almost a large part of a cat's perceptual universe as sight. Even the best CGI or robotic cat simulation won't have the scent.

Re:Homocentric bullshit? (5, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653114)

My cats look directly and intently at my face every day, and it's obvious from the circumstances that they recognize that a mind with intent is attached to those eyes and they're eager to figure out what that intent might be (and whether it might adversely affect them).

Dogs you mean. No other animal can beat dogs when it comes to reading the human mind. Most animals don't even know to look at where we are pointing at. Dogs have evolved with humans for the last 30,000 years. I posted earlier the theory about dog-human interaction could be the one that led to sedentism that was the precursor to the domestication of plants and agriculture. Someone asked for references. See Nicholas Wade's book "Before the Dawn" for a good over view of "The Great Leap Forward". (But the main thrust of that book was building inheritance trees of the Y Chromosome, the mitochondrial DNA, DNA of the body louse, the tree of languages etc and showing how they all agree with one another and gives us clues about fixing crucial dates before the recorded history. For example lactose tolerance and cattle domestication in west-central Europe about 8000 years ago. Or the correlation between horse based civilizations and Indo-Aryan language family. )

Re:mind with intent (3, Insightful)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653236)

My cats look directly and intently at my face every day

Maybe your cats are just waiting for you to pass on so they can eat you? Actually, I do wonder what they are thinking at such times... maybe something as simple as love.

Re:mind with intent (4, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653476)

They are attempting to calculate the best approach to getting fresh food in their bowl based on your mood and their own. Do they howl until you give in? A little mewl and a flick of the tail? A pur and flop next to the bowl so that you notice it is empty while giving a belly rub? That little head butt thing that says "you one of my people and thats cool with me"? Do they sit on your dinner plate? Do they walk up to a glass of grape juice, look you in the eye and then knock it onto the carpet?

Why do I think everyone is secretly a robot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34652664)

So then why did I think that I'm the only real sentient human being when I was a kid? I grew out of that somehow, am I autistic deep down or are my survival instincts just extremely poor?

Re:Why do I think everyone is secretly a robot? (1)

LQ (188043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652884)

So then why did I think that I'm the only real sentient human being when I was a kid? I grew out of that somehow, am I autistic deep down or are my survival instincts just extremely poor?

Lack of a 'theory of mind' probably puts you down the /. end of the autistic spectrum.

At the Mountains of Santa ... (1)

xleeko (551231) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652672)

But, but ... they *weren't supposed to look alive*

I suppose the story got a little fouled up in the editing, but here is a clip from the director's cut [whatisdeepfried.com]

I can agree (1, Interesting)

Nyder (754090) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652720)

I'm an eye person. It's what I love about chicks the most (but their soft curvy parts come in a close second).

But besides that, i can read people by looking in their eyes. Hard to explain, but if I make I contact with you, I connect to you somehow and can figure out what's going on inside.

That being said, it gives me the creeps as most people really, well, suck.

So if i'm looking at your cleavage when we talk, don't be offended, you don't want me to read what's going on in your head.

(you might think i'm being funny, but i'm not, i'm being serious. I don't like be touched either.)

Key to survival (5, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652798)

Yeah, I guess it'd be pretty important if the zombie uprising ever happens, or the world is taken over by sentient dolls.

note taken (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34652812)

thanks

also please bring back jon katz

--
BOB ZEMECKIS
"if it doesn't say PURINA, bury it in the yard!!"

Re:note taken (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653090)

I don't have to see Jon Katz' face to know that he's not human.

Try the experiment with actual faces (1)

billrp (1530055) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652862)

Ballmer's photo on Wikipedia would probably indicate "incapable of thought".

I don't seem to have any trouble surviving. (4, Informative)

seebs (15766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653014)

I'm autistic. I don't seem to have the automatic distinction between things with minds and things without minds. In fact, I can occasionally forget that other people have minds, briefly. For instance, a couple of days ago, I was pinching Beloved Spouse's cheeks, and I suddenly got fascinated with how the various components of the face are connected and deform each other. I started messing with this. Suddenly it occurred to me: There is a person experiencing this, and it may not be a preferred experience. But there you have it; for a good four or five seconds, I had completely forgotten that my spouse was a sapient creature. While staring directly at said spouse's face.

I can't think of an occasion on which this has been any kind of survival problem. (My spouse is very forgiving.)

I suspect that it's useful to get this stuff automatically, but it also produces all sorts of strange buggy behavior when we find things that trigger the "that's people" grey matter but which aren't actually people.

art (2)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653040)

There's simple artistic concerns as well beyond the math. Zemeckis and others need to sit down and understand why Pixar's hand crafted, "super deformed" characters come across as orders of magnitude more realistic than high tech attempts to directly dump humans into the computer. I've always felt if you want realistic humans just use actors, and CGI everything else.

How can they say (3, Insightful)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34653266)

that the cut-off is at the 67%/33% mark ? After all, one end of the scale is fixed, a picture of a real human, but the other end is not fixed, should they have drawn the line at 99%human/1% lego brick ?

Bridalplasty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34653382)

I always thought Joan Rivers, Priscilla Presley, Real Housewives of whatever were CGI effects.

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