The Uncanny Valley (yeah you should know this already)
From James Portnow’s blog, a terrific Zero-Punctuation-style video on the Uncanny Valley. You probably know what that is, but it’s worth watching the video and passing this on to others who don’t. And if you don’t know what that is and how it applies to games and AI, you really should watch it.
So what about the Uncanny Valley? What are the best ways to approach one of the two peaks (on the near or, gulp, the far side) of the Valley? How much does emotional and social resonance in computer characters help? Are we pushing a huge rock up an ever-steeper hill by pursuing incredible graphics for characters that are effectively lobotomized and becoming creepier and creepier? Would more broad-stroked graphics along with really effective (and affective — emotional, social) AI be more compelling?
And in case anyone is wondering why compelling AI matters, it’s like this: what we find emotionally and socially resonant we find compelling (see any Disney movie). What we find compelling sets the stage for meaningfulness. And what we find meaningful we trust — with our time and our money. So yeah, it’s about monetization: create compelling characters in meaningful situations, and people will line up to interact with them, paying for the privilege over and over again. Photorealism can stand in for meaning for a little while, but not for long, and not nearly as well as emotional and social resonance.