Most kids have an app to distort human faces into bunny rabbits or trolls. They find it amusing and they may be doing themselves a favor. They are desensitizing themselves to a real problem that we will all face in the very near future, the Uncanny Valley.

The Uncanny Valley is a way of describing the intricate complex of feelings and emotions we will all face when we encounter a face that is nearly human, but not quite, like the face that is pictured above.

Inevitably, the future will present us with more and more social interactions with humanoid (non-human) faces. Since 1970, scientists have been studying our reactions to such events. The results of those studies show us that AI that imperfectly resembles actual human beings causes uncanny feelings of uneasiness and even revulsion in many of us.

Feelings of revulsion towards the strange and the unhuman have always been with us, from Ripley’s Believe it or Not to creepy-looking creatures to people with metal rings stuck all over their faces.

But don’t worry! The very smart and well-funded pioneers of AI technology are working hard to fill in the Uncanny Valley. Some day soon, AI will be completely indistinguishable from you and me. But that may be a problem in and of itself.