I have two invitations for you

The first is in virtual space, the second is in meat space. Both are cool.

In virtual space, Seed Magazine and Scienceblogs.com are doing the bloggy thing, and have a set of closely related interesting items for you to read. Honestly, I would really appreciate it if you would have a look at this stuff. It is hard to build an audience in new blog space, and this is good stuff and I don’t want you to miss it.

Here is the list:

Into Uncanny Valley: New findings shed light on a century’s worth of bizarre explanations for the eerie feeling we get around lifelike robots. An article in Seed Magazine by Joe Kloc.

Perfect Strangers: The eerie emotional response brought on by near-duplicates of our selves raises interesting questions about perception and expectations. A “Featured BLogger” piece on Seed Magazine’s web site by Greg Laden.

The Uncanny Valley – A Computer Vision Perspective, a blog post on Collective Imagination by Peter Tu

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the Uncanny, I will fear no doppelgangers … a blog post on Collective Imagination by Moi.

Please join us on Collective Imagination with your comments!

Second, the meat space invite: As you know, PZ Myers is doing a debate tonight in Saint Paul. Details are here.

Well, a bunch of us are meeting at La Casita in Roseville at ca 5:30 to 6:00 for pre debate tacos. PZ will try to make it, depending on air flights and traffic and stuff.

La Casita is NOT a walk to the site of the debate, just so you know.

See you there!


  1. #1 Jeff Knapp
    November 16, 2009

    Woa! You guys actually have Mexican food in the Land of the Norske? Seems as strange as me finding a restaurant called Mor Mor that serves lutefisk and lefse here in L.A. I just don’t see it happening. But, stranger things have been known…

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    November 16, 2009

    You’ve obviously never had a lutefisk taco!

  3. #3 daedalus2u
    November 16, 2009

    I had meant to post this here only, but (by mistake I posted it over at Collective Imagination (where it is held for moderation). Sorry for the duplication, I think the two posts are identical, if not you may find them uncanny 😉

    My interpretation of the uncanny valley effect is that it is something that all humans do when they encounter another human; in effect they do a Turing test to see if the entity they are encountering is “human enough”. If the other human fails the Turing test, then xenophobia is triggered.

    Essentially it is a test of the communication protocols that the two humans are using to communicate, their respective “theories of mind”. In a very fundamental sense, all that can be communicated are mental concepts, as instantiated in mental hardware as brain states. To communicate a mental state, one translates the mental concepts into language via a theory of mind, transmits the data stream of the language, the receiving party collects the data stream and then translates it back into mental concepts via their resident theory of mind. If the two individuals don’t have the same translation protocols for translating the language data stream into mental concepts (i.e. the same “theory of mind”), they cannot communicate. The only possible things that they can communicate are mental states that both brains are able to instantiate. If the neurological hardware doesn’t have the capacity to support thinking a mental concept, that concept cannot be thought.

    If the error rate becomes too high, then the other party “fails” the Turing test and xenophobia is triggered.

    I think this is the source of essentially all bigotry and racism. Such things are the “default” interaction mode when someone fails the Turing test. Xenophobia can also be learned and a person can train themselves to not invoke xenophobia when they meet someone who fails their Turing test, or they can make their Turing test so narrow and specific that everyone invokes xenophobia.

    This is why the Teabaggers hate liberals so much. They are unable to understand liberals as human beings, so xenophobia is invoked, feelings of hate are produced, and reasons are made up post-hoc to justify why there is such hatred. I think this is the same with all forms of bigotry. This is why arguing with Teabaggers is useless. They didn’t arrive at their feelings of hatred by facts and logic, facts and logic won’t change how they feel.

    It is the feelings that come first, the rationalizations are latched onto later and don’t need to make any sense. This is why the Obama “death panel” meme was so effective. The Conservatives have such hatred of Obama, that they do feel he is like Hitler. The feelings of hatred are about the Teabaggers not having the capacity to understand what Obama stands for, what he is doing, how he is thinking and what he intends to do. They have latched onto their feelings of hatred and are justifying the intensity of those feelings with truly wacky ideas, that Obama is a terrorist and that Obama wants to kill millions of people, just like Hitler did. It is pure delusion.

    I actually come at this through my autism research. Usually xenophobia is triggered via the uncanny valley because there are cultural differences in body language, customs, accents, word use, myriad little things that are difficult to articulate. Many of these are completely unconscious communication modalities and are very difficult to teach or mimic. People from different cultures have them, the details are simply different and it shows up as an increased error rate. In contrast, people with autism lack (to a degree) the brain structures that perform these subtle communication protocols. People with autism can’t produced a nuanced communication with all the detailed cultural protocols because they don’t have the neurological hardware to do so. This lack of the protocols due to the lack of the hardware triggers the uncanny valley in a gigantic way. This is why people with autism are so abused. This is why curebie parents “hate” autism so much. What has happened is that because their child cannot communicate with them the way they are hard-wired to expect, xenophobia against their own child has been triggered. I think this is the reason for the stories of changelings, the triggering of the uncanny valley in a parent by their child. The curebie parents have then displaced the feelings of hatred they have for their child with autism onto what they perceive as having “caused” the autism, big pharma, vaccines, mercury, or anyone who is not “fighting” with them against the monstrous evil that has occurred (i.e. the neurodiverse who don’t perceive there to have been a monstrous evil).

  4. #4 Stephanie Z
    November 16, 2009

    Jeff, we do indeed have Mexican food in Minnesota. La Casita isn’t it, although it is fairly tasty.