Is there also an uncanny valley that applies to our level of comfort
One day, people won’t have to type queries into a box to search for information. It’ll be delivered to them, via their various screens, based on where they are, who is nearby and what they might like and need to know.
Google gave a glimpse of that future on Wednesday at its developer conference in a feature called Google Now, which will act as a kind of automated personal assistant on Android smartphones. The service, which will roll out as part of the next update to Google’s mobile operating system, will do things like remind an Android owner of a lunch date — but also who it is with, how to get there and when to leave, based on current traffic congestion. And based on your past Google searches, it will keep you up to date on flight information and sports scores.
It’s easy to see how this kind of service could be helpful. It’s also really easy to see how it could be creepy. What’s harder, however, is to see the line between the two, and to know where (and when) Google might cross it.
In robotics and computer graphics, there is a concept known as the uncanny valley. Humans tend to find robots and animated characters that look vaguely human-ish charming and cute. But as those bots and figures take on more and more human characteristics, particularly movement, that empathy disappears and is replaced by revulsion — unless the simulation is nearly perfect. It’s one of the theories behind why moviegoers hated the jerky humans in the film “The Polar Express” but loved the bumbling, junk-collecting machine in “Wall-E.”
Is there also an uncanny valley that applies to our level of comfort and discomfort around what companies, services, virtual helpers and machines know about us and how they use that information?
via New York Times – JENNA WORTHAM