Uncanny Valley: 'Emotion' in robots

We catch-up with Stephanie Lay, a researcher with the Open University

Stephanie Lay is a researcher with the Open University who began her study into the uncanny valley – “the sense of eeriness and unease that accompanies the sight of something that is almost but not quite human” – in 2006.  As the use of robots becomes increasingly mainstream her work is becoming more and more relevant in our daily lives.  We catch up with her to learn more.

When do you think robots will be able to realistically convey emotion so they cease to be creepy?

I think we’re getting quite close to this now. If you compare the androids that had just been created back when I was starting my research into the uncanny valley [in 2006] with the ones that are available now, the differences in the complexity of emotions they can convey are quite striking. 

For a good example, consider Repliee-Q1 from 2005: