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Two explorations of how creepy artificial life can get...

Date/Time Permalink: 04/15/08 04:45:55 am
Category: LINKS and Lists

I've just found a Flash demo that is frankly unsettling. Click that link if you dare and wait for it to load. I found myself moving the mouse more to avoid having its gaze look me in the eye. I used to laugh at people who talked about the "uncanny valley", and I am very sorry for that now.

Nevertheless, it got me thinking: We have MakeHuman plus Blender on the Linux desktop, and we have a way to make Flash. So, could we do this demo using only FOSS tools?

I think it may be possible with pre-rendered frames. You could have separate layers for eyes and face movement, and the rest is just head tilts. However, I think they have something more sophisticated going on, like something built into the ActionScript.

Now, as if that weren't enough, here's a four-legged walking thing that will haunt your nightmares. All it needs is a head...

There, that put you in the right frame of mind to do your taxes today, did it not?

Update: After some webvestigating, I found the site that describes the technology, Motion Portrait, in English. Apparently they do it from photographs which are them processed with some kind of algorithm.

So, no, reproducing a similar effect with 3D rendering and a completely generated model wouldn't be copying their method.

Update: Cosmic kismet, I just happened to catch "The Stepford Wives" on AMC tonight - the 1975 classic based on Ira Levin's novel (God rest his profound soul). It brought me back to this post, and I remembered that Japan is in population decline, a story from which I quote:

"The trick will be 'innovation,' Abe said, and economic reform. In fact, robots and other ways to improve productivity are one of four possible routes to economic growth despite an aging population. The others would be making better use of women..."

I followed that Wiki link again to the actroid article. God, we're getting scary-close to Stepford in some parts of the world! I've thought all this time that Ira Levin was kidding, but what if he nailed it? I've known too many people out there who wouldn't mind being a robot at all...

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