The Uncanny Valley Empathy between Perception and Imagination

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14 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 8 μήνες)

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The Uncanny Valley


Empathy
between Perception and Imagination

Catrin Misselhorn


If
we see somebody beating a child,
we feel different than if we see somebody beating a
computer: in the case
of beating a child we empathize

and feel compassion, whereas if

we
see somebody beating a computer, we do not. However, if an inanimate objects looks in
certain ways like a human being, although it is not, we feel ill at ease when someone is
beating

it. One would suppose that this

corresponds to a linear function: the

more a thing
looks and behaves like a human being the more we will em
pathize. Yet, there exists
evidence that it

is not evolvi
ng as constantly
as one might expect. Masahiro Mori, a
Japanese roboticist, formulated in an article from 1970 a seminal hypothes
is concerning
the emotional responses of humans to robots and other non
-
human entities.
H
e stated that
the more human
-
like a robot or another object is made, the more positive and empathetic
emotional responses from human beings it will elicit. However, wh
en a certain degree of
likeness is reached, this function is interrupted brusquely, and responses, all of a sudden,
become very repulsive. The function only begins to rise again when the object in question
becomes almost indistinguishable from real humans.

By then, the responses of the
subjects approach empathy to real human beings. The emerging gap
in the graph
is called
the “uncanny valley
.


I will first review some empirical research and show that it cannot
provide a satisfying
answer to all dimensions o
f the problem
. I

will then develop

a
philosophical framework which

can integrate
the results of the empirical studies. This
account will explain the phenomenon with the help of the particular kind of interaction of
imagination and percepti
on in empathy

to
be laid out in more detail.