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Mitt Romney, Robotics, and the Uncanny Valley 501

Hugh Pickens writes "Brian Fung writes in the Atlantic that one of Romney's electoral problems is that he occupies a kind of uncanny valley for politicians, inexplicably turning voters off despite looking like the textbook image of an American president. Just as people who interact with lifelike robots often develop a strange feeling due to something they can't quite name, something about Romney leaves voters unsettled. As with the robotic version of the uncanny valley, the closer Romney gets to becoming real to a voter, the more his likeability declines. 'The effect is almost involuntary, considering the substantial advantages Romney enjoys from appearance alone,' writes Fung. 'But in person, his polished persona gives way to what appears a surprisingly forced and inauthentic character.' Political commentator Dana Milbanks adds that although Romney is confident and competent, in casual moments his weirdness comes through — equal parts 'Leave It to Beaver' corniness and social awkwardness. 'Romney's task now is to work his way out of the uncanny valley toward a more compelling style of humanity,' concludes Fung. 'But every day he lingers in it, the hill grows steeper.'"

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!