The female Turing Test

Old Man mannequin

Last year I wrote a column for Slate about the “Uncanny Valley” — the moment when an animated version of a human becomes so photorealistic that it’s creepy. The theory is that a highly stylized person, like an animated Charlie Brown, is so low-fi that it’s cute; our brains fill in all missing information that isn’t present in the intentionally low-resolution image. As the resolution goes up, we often find virtual humans more and more appealing … until they’re almost totally real, at which point they suddenly look horrifyingly weird. That’s because when something is 99% real, we suddenly start noticing all the 1% that isn’t quite right: We see that the eyes aren’t quite moist enough, or the skin doesn’t hang right. Suddenly, the CGI person looks like an animated corpse.

Now I’ve found the precise analog in the 3D world: These unbelievably creepy Japanese mannequins, created — I think — as training aids for nurses.

Ay-yi-yi. I can think of no more efficient way of permanently scaring someone away from a career in nursing than by dragging one of these freaktastic zombies out of whatever industrial coffin it’s shipped in. That little thing in the corner? It’s the wig. In case you want the zombie to have, you know, dark hair.


(Boing Boing beat us here, but thanks originally to Chris Walsh for this one!)

blog comments powered by Disqus

Search This Site


I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

More of Me


Recent Comments

Collision Detection: A Blog by Clive Thompson