uncanny valley

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Calque of Japanese 不気味の谷 (ぶきみのたに, bukimi no tani), from Middle Chinese (pjuw, not) + (kì-mjɨ̀j, sense, sentiment, literally taste and smell) + Japanese (no, noun modifier particle) + (たに, tani, valley). First used in 1970 by roboticist Masahiro Mori.


uncanny valley

  1. A range of appearances, mannerisms, and/or behaviors subtly different from humanoid in an otherwise humanoid figure that may cause negative reactions, such as fear, discomfort, or revulsion.
    • 1970, Masahiro Mori, The Uncanny Valley (Energy, 7(4), pp. 33–35):
      So in this case, the appearance is quite human like, but the familiarity is negative. This is the uncanny valley.
    • 2006, Sebastiano Bagnara, Gillian Crampton Smith, Theories and Practice in Interaction Design:
      However, when the robot is so similar that it may be momentarily mistaken for real, the transition has a local minimum characterized by a sudden decrease of familiarity, the "uncanny valley"—a dip of frustration due to unmet expectations.
    • 2007, Jonathon Keats, Control + Alt + Delete: A Dictionary of Cyberslang:
      Almost human in appearance, yet not quite, the characters in 3-D computer animations are more disturbing than overt caricatures. The realm these creatures occupy is called the uncanny valley [...].