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Post Mon Sep 03, 2007 6:14 am

This is really a REPLICAnt



-Ayrton Senna-


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Post Mon Sep 03, 2007 1:27 pm

Man, that is all the way down in the Uncanny Valley. It's weird, the Japanese know that "too real" is a bad thing psychologically, yet they persist in creating ultra-realistic robots/androids/animoids. Most people are uncomfortable with them.

Look at what happened to Necoro. A fur-covered cat animoid, aimed at the same customers who went for Sony's AIBO dog animoid. Necoro was made by Omron, a company best known for electronic health products like blood pressure gauges and digital thermometers. It cost about the same as AIBO. However Necoro had glass eyes and a fur coat. It looked like an animated zombie cat. AIBO was more stylized, with LEDs instead of glass eyes and a slick plastic body instead of fur. Necoro was a flop. AIBO was relatively successful.

Yes, AIBO eventually was discontinued two years ago. I think Sony screwed up: Moore's Law dictates that they could have made less expensive, entry-level AIBOs which could have been quite profitable for them. Particularly considering that they opened up the AIBO for behavior hacks a couple of years after the dust-up over unofficial hacks. Now the only people who are putting out domestic "pet" robots are toymakers, with toy-like functionality. And kit builders. And people catering to the Star Wars fan droid-making hobby. (Anime would be cheaper!)

I think that people's comfort levels with regard to robots go sort of like this: the model of the "friendly" robot, and has been since 1977, is R2D2. People don't mind something like that. It is sufficiently "non-human" to not give rise to the Uncanny Valley problem. It has a cute personality. Asimo, the Honda humanoid robot, is sufficiently non-human looking to where people are comfortable with it. A walking robot that looks like a scale model of a Gundam would probably be welcomed.

But something like that duplicate of that Japanese robot scientist, or the digital duplicate of Phil K. Dick, or the female greeter android...too scary for the average person. Hell, people got weird about Disney's audioanimatronic dolls...go rent Westworld sometime for some cheesy fun with androids.
Yes, I really live in Los Angeles. Srsly. And yeah, life really does imitate art here. Especially now we've got those video billboards. No spinners yet. But I suppose that's next.

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