You may have heard the phrase “Uncanny Valley” before. According to many, as robots continue to look more and more like real people, we tend to feel closer to them and accept them more – but only to a point. Past that point there’s a sense of fear and revulsion at something that looks almost human, corpselike, diseased, etc. Think of great horror movies where something’s just not quite right about the villain, like the masked Michael Myers in Halloween, or the twitchy crawling style of the dead girl in The Ring.
There’s a natural inclination to avoid the thing. Well, most of us, that is. Japanese robot engineer Hiroshi Ishiguro seems hell-bent on making the creepiest things he can imagine. You may have seen his Geminoid robot series, initially designed to look just like him but gradually evolved into the creepy female “Repliee” (now sold as “Actroid” – only $20,000 and you can have your own to scare the kids away at Halloween!)