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- Subject: Re: Lua and Neko comparison (Beware the Linguistic Uncanny Valley)
- From: Don Hopkins <dhopkins@...>
- Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2006 15:24:27 -0700
This month's "gamedeveloper" magazine has an article "Invisible
Monsters: Tales from the Uncanny Valley".
"The Uncanny Valley occurs when a non-homan's likeness to a human nears
reality, but lacks perfection."
I think the Uncanny Valley applies to programming language design as
well as computer graphics. Especially to cargo-cult programming
appearance of other languages, without understanding the reasons behind
The closer one language is to another, the more uncanny the subtle
differences are. Like C is to C++, C++ is to Java, Java is to
ActionScript is to the next.
I like to be able to easily tell what language I'm programming in, and
it's a good thing that Lisp is way different than C++, and Lua is way
"The Uncanny Valley is a hypothesis about robotics concerning the
emotional response of humans to robots and other non-human entities. It
was introduced by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in 1970. It states
that as a robot is made more humanlike in its appearance and motion, the
emotional response from a human being to the robot will become
increasingly positive and empathic, until a point is reached beyond
which the response quickly becomes strongly repulsive. However, as the
appearance and motion continue to become less distinguishable from a
human being's, the emotional response becomes positive once more and
approaches human-human empathy levels."
An article on drunkenblog  uses the Uncanny Valley analogy to
describe the frustration many computer programmers experience when using
the AppleScript programming language.