Since we were kids, most of us got emotionally attached to things that aren’t real: cartoons, teddy bears, and talking cars, for instance. Usually these attachments are built on the stories that surround, for instance, our teddy bears – stories we create. In the case of cartoons, it’s other people’s stories.
But there’s something different, exciting, and scary happening here. Watch this, and tell me what you feel when a) the guy kicks the machine, and b) the machine slips on the ice.
I found it heartbreaking watching the machine try to keep its balance on the ice. “Go little guy, go!” I thought. And I thought the guy was a real jerk for kicking it… yet I’ve kicked many a machine that hasn’t done what I wanted it to do.
UPDATE: zeke points out that this is a military robot…I know! That’s what’s crazy, but when those feeble feet were skidding on the ice I reacted – involuntarily – with pity.
Here’s another one that really got me emotionally:
The movements of these giant contraptions are so organic that it’s hard *not* to think of them as sentient somehow, and to react accordingly.
Finally, here’s an amazing CGI woman, not quite lifelike, but damn close.
So what’s striking about all this is how important movement is in our emotional reactions to things. Part of that suggests that we’re getting closer to loveable robots. But another thing is to consider the information that gets lost in text-based communication.