Uncanny Canyon · by Ivan Dal Cin

When face images generated by GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks) appeared, I thought they represented the extreme point of the Uncanny Valley.

The images archived here were generated via the This-Person-Does-Not-Exist website, which displayed a new face on each web page reload. They are so realistic and natural as to be credible, yet some small details are very disturbing. We have always been used to knowing how to read and interpret the human face and its expressions, so the fact of being misled by these synthetic portraits is amazing and scary.

Alongside the portraits there's the transcript of the questions and some answers exchanged during the Loebner Prizes 2016-2018: these were the last editions of the contest, which rewarded the Artificial Intelligence software that performed best in relation to some Turing tests. Through a set of 20 questions, the evaluators had to understand whether they were dealing with a human being or an AI, looking for particular patterns and pain points in the answers. I have selected those that I find most uncanny: sophisticated, ironic or sometimes simply human.