After glimpsing the icy contempt beneath Johnson’s facade, I’ll take charisma-free Hunt for PM any day
Have you heard of the uncanny valley? If not, let me say straight away, before you get at all excited, that it’s an IT thing. It’s a theory in robotics that just happens to have an evocative name. The valley it refers to, far from being a magical land between Narnia and the Big Rock Candy Mountain, where everything’s a bit weird and the fish fly and the bees swim, is actually just a valley shape on a graph. A flattish asymmetrical U. Specifically, a dip in how positive people’s reaction to a robot tends to be as its appearance becomes more human.
The theory is that, in general, as robots look more human, we self-obsessed humans like it more and more, so the line of the graph goes up. Until, that is, the robots are nearly identical to humans. Then our approval dips into the uncanny valley, because we suddenly find it creepy, like watching a bee swim. Until, again, the robots become even more humanlike, and indistinguishable from real people, when our approval rises once more at the comforting sight of what we mistake for our own kind. This provides the other side of the metaphorical valley.
If Johnson were to lose, that would be a hilarious pratfall that would dwarf his previous attempts to amuse