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Free From Uncanny Valley
by Samuel Connelly
11/20/2008 / Christian Living
The Uncanny Valley is a principle of robotics which refers to the relationship between Humans and robots. Basically the theory, theorized in 1970 by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori, claims that the more a robot is made to look and act like a human, the more empathy and positive reactions they get from humans. But when the boundary is crossed and the robots become nearly exact humanoids, in look and action, empathy soon turns to repulse.
When a robot is clearly distinguished as a robot trying to act human, humans look on them like a monkey or dog that is mimicking humans; it makes us smile and say, "Good boy." When a human comes face to face with a humanoid that is only distinguishable as a robot by few robotic traits, human empathy towards it is replaced with a feeling of strangeness.
This feeling of strangeness is referred to as 'Uncanny Valley'. It is like approaching a friend who has recently survived a wreck - reaching out to shake his hand you are met by a cold metal device which grasps your hand with spider-like robotic fingers, where there was once a strong fleshy hand. It is the feeling when you go to a funeral and, peering into the casket upon the lifeless body, you imagine their eyes open up and look at you through cadaverous eyelids and gaunt face.
As a Christian who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ and lives by faith, and, as a man who considers himself a scientist (i.e. one who searches for truth) I am continuously amazed by the heart of God, seen through the evidence of His many great efforts to preserve and save mankind. God's love for us cannot be understood with all science has to offer.
In the realm of science we theorize and test truths with our limited material resources, tainted knowledge, and broadly secular logic; which is at very best when compared to God significantly insignificant. The Bible says,
"I don't think the way you think. The way you work isn't the
way I work." God decrees. "For as the sky soars high above
earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
- Isaiah 55: 8, 9 (MSG)
We try and understand God the best we know how, but the love of God makes no human sense. What human would take his only child and knowingly send him to suffer death for an inferior race of creatures which have divorced themselves from their creator and trample the laws by which he set for them to live by? Jesus even said that God the Father loves us AS MUCH AS God has loved His own Son.
"I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that You have sent Me and have LOVED THEM AS YOU HAVE LOVED ME."
At the thought of a robot becoming indistinguishable from humans and possibly creating a whole race of robot humanoids, we cringe. We wonder, "If we create a race of robots like that, what would they do? Would they take over the world? Would they be superior to us? Would they some day enslave humans, or use us as some natural resource for energy?" Many books, movies, and studies have been done on this subject.
God is not intimidated by us. He is secure in who He IS, and, in His love for us. He doesn't look down on us as inferior, but as lost children. He is passionate about us and pursues us with undying affection. He has given His Son to suffer death to redeem us and sent His Holy Spirit to lead us closer to Him. He continuously gives us gifts and tools that equip us to become more like Him, and He strives to see that none perish.
No matter where humans go with their inventions and theories, mankind will never escape those strange feelings that come from fears and insecurities deep within, but as far as God is concerned with us; the more we become like Him, the more He gives us to grow with, and regardless of our shortcomings and failures, He is never repulsed at our site.
In the eyes and heart of God, we have been freed from the bondage, deadness, repulsiveness, and inferiority of Uncanny Valley.
I live in Wichita Ks. Have a few short stories, articles and several poems published. Finishing up two novels. I am a former youth minister and VJ for a Sky Angel Christian rock show. I'm a deli manager and certified coffee expert by day and write like crazy by night.
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