De-humanizing Humanoid Robots [study]

Humanoid robots are often experienced as unnerving, a psychological phenomenon called the “uncanny valley.” The Uncanny Valley is quite a problem for ‘humanoid’ robot designers – who currently struggle to make their robots 100% convincing. A newly proposed solution involves ‘dehumanizing’ ‘humanoid’ robots. By, for example, removing the robot’s face to expose bare electronic circuit […]

Drinking tears (the case of the butterfly and the girl)

Kees Moeliker reports a well-known—but seldom noticed by humans—butterfly behavior: drinking human tears. Here is a machine-translation into English of his report in the September 22, 2020 issue of the Dutch newspaper NRC: ——— Drinking tears While on holiday in the Alps, a butterfly feasts on the eye fluid of Kees Moeliker’s daughter The splendor […]

Gorillas and humans, too, imitate each other

This report from Virunga National Park appears to broaden and confirm the Ig Nobel Prize-winning discovery about different kinds of animals (humans and some of our close relatives) imitating each other: The photo, posted on Instagram, bears this caption: You might have recently seen caretakers Mathieu and Patrick’s amazing selfie with female orphaned gorillas Ndakazi […]

Earliest reported human flight in Britain (some time near the year 1000)

The earliest reported human flight in Britain happened, if it happened, long. long ago. Alison Hudson reports, in the British Library’s Medieval Manuscripts blog: It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a… Monk? …did you know that the first recorded pioneer of man-powered flight in the British Isles was an Anglo-Saxon monk from Malmesbury Abbey called Eilmer (or […]

Judging who, or what, judges people best

This week’s Gestalt Which-of-These-Alternatives-Do-You-See? Question asks you to look at a newly published study. The question is: What, exactly, is this study judging? The study is “Computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans“, Wu Youyou, Michal Kosinski [pictured here], and David Stillwell, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, epub January 12, 2015. The authors […]

The Human Dynamic Clamp

Social scientists, some of them, love to imitate and perhaps surpass what non-social scientists have done. This study may be an example (the paper does not directly indicate how social are the scientists who wrote it): “The human dynamic clamp as a paradigm for social interaction,” Guillaume Dumas, Gonzalo C. de Guzman, Emmanuelle Tognoli, and […]

Improbable Research