Sunday, March 6, 2016

Uncanny Valley of the Neural Tickle of Irony

This is a short mid-process note after starting to experiment with an ironic simile generator - that is, it is intended to generate statements a long the line of

"as subtle as a sledgehammer"
Notes on the process by which these statements are being automatically generated are here.

Some of the generated statements are tweeted by @theironycat.

The generated statements can be simply confusing, and some are simply similes (I think because the early-stage logic being used needs a lot of work). But some are such unusual constructs that they seem to force your brain to try to overlay a scenario that would have generated the statement, and the scenario itself then has an unnaturalness to it, like those "almost there" robots that are more creepy than anything else. The term "uncanny valley" has been applied to those robots. Animations can also have that effect ("Polar Express" did that for me).

Thus, this "uncanny valley" notion applies to some of the generated examples when assessing its degree of that "vague feeling of irony" you might be familiar with, which itself is kind of a "neural tickle".

Below are a few examples that seemed to be from the uncanny valley of the neural tickle, or at least within its periphery. This assessment is obviously subjective.

Sometimes the statements, if the combination is odd enough, cause a neural tickle independent of any notion of irony. Some have a strange poignancy or imagery. These are included, too, because I like them.

A "bunfight" used to mean
a very fancy tea party.
A layette is a "set of clothing, linens,
and sometimes toiletries
for a newborn child".