Humans can emphathise with robots up to a point where they become too human, when they are seen as creepy and revolting. Empathy rises again as they become indistinguishable from real people. This dip is called the ‘uncanny valley’. When I came to plot screen robots on the humanlike/familiarity graph above I noticed the good robots are mostly to the left of the uncanny valley while all the robots in uncanny valley are bad. The Synthetics from Channel 4’s Humans are deep in uncanny valley. Maybe we can just do without robots that look too human.
Read more about our special future robots issue in my Editor’s Letter