Large Image Display: The Stepford Wives: Stuck in a Loop

This single frame is taken from the 2004 film 'The Stepford Wives'. It has been greatly reduced in size from the original, in order to meet fair use guidelines.

It features Sarah, one of the gynoids of the film. The town are in the middle of a fourth of July celebration, nad are all gathered inside a converted barn dancing room for some square dancing. Soon into a dance one of the exuberant women gets too carried away and appears to get stuck in a loop. As the music dies down, and many of the men become increasingly annoyed, she spins like a top, hands aloft, yelling "yippee-kiyay." Over and over and over. Repeating the same action time and time again as several of the guys try to bustle her out the door. They fail, and, still pirouetting. she spins faster and faster, then stops. She lowers her hands, smiles, and falls over backwards onto the floor with a solid thud. Laying on the floor, one arm over her neck, her face continually twitches, repeating "do-si-do, do-si-do" over and over again.

The comedic value for the film in this event occurring is obvious. Still, it is something that whilst not as exuberant, is encountered often with modern AI, both virtually embodied (housed in an avatar a body in a virtual world), and embodied (housed in a robot body, physically). They get stuck in a routine, caused by an erroneous feedback loop. Unable to complete the action, or fully quit, the same action is repeated over and over until something jolts them out of it. Usually, that something is a reset, as happened here.

It is an issue that has yet to be corrected, but one which desperately more research is needed on, for it falls into the area of the uncanny valley.

The gynoid's movements become revealed as artificiaal, by the repeating of the same patterns over and over again. In this case, even if the dance had continued, the repeating pattern, over and over, would eventually have given the gynoid away. In fact, in the film, that is precisely what happened. Whilst her appearance was spot on for a human, the looping action moved just far enough away from human, that she appeared mindless yet still moving - the zombie represented here, at the trough of the valley. One aspect so far removed from normal behaviour that it just screams 'wrong' to the baser instincts.

Just another example of the actual behaviour in embodied AI that has to be solved before we can consider the valley conquered.

Link: The Stepford Wives: Index of Stills

Link: Large Image Display: The Uncanny Valley

Link: The Uncanny Valley

Link: The Stepford Wives (2004): A Plot Overview

Link: Site Shop > The Stepford Wives (2004)