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Romney and the "Uncanny Valley"

Readers of this blog know that I have a healthy fear of the eventual takeover of the human species by robots. Conspiracy, uh, Patriots like myself are familiar with the term "The Uncanny Valley." It is one of our few comforts in the war against our eventual oppressors.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, here it is in plain English: In general, as robots come to resemble humans our liking and affiliation for said robot increases, to a point. At some point along the way the robot so closely resembles a human -- but still manages to retain certain robot-esque quirks -- that it produces a weird kind of uneasiness in us and our liking for the robot drops off. If you were to produce a robot that transcends these quirks they would be virtually indistinguishable from our fellow man or woman.

It wasn't until today that I realized Mitt Romney occupies a sort of "uncanny valley" of presidential candidates:
As with the robotic version of the uncanny valley, the closer Romney gets to becoming real to a voter, the more his likeability declines. On television and at a distance, the former governor radiates presidential qualities from every patrician pore. The effect is almost involuntary, considering the substantial advantages Romney enjoys from appearance alone. But in person, his polished persona gives way to what appears a surprisingly forced and inauthentic character. What's disturbing about episodes like those detailed in this story isn't that they happen -- it's that they're inexplicably happening to a man who should, by the looks of him, navigate the political waters with ease.
Click through the link for an amusing graph.

I, for one, am breathing a sigh of relief. The unease that voters feel about Romney will probably prevent him from gaining the highest office in the land, and until those machines get better at crafting a more convincing humanoid to run for the GOP we can rest assured that those buckets of bolts won't be getting their titanium hands on our nuclear launch codes.

This post originally appeared on Stuff Smart People Like. Subscribe to the Podcast.

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