Buffet: All You Can Eat Las Vegas
Buffet: All You Can Eat Las Vegas
Most people don’t try to parse cuteness. Like pornography, we know it when we see it. With a bit of examination, however, cuteness has easily quantifiable aesthetics. Take a moment to picture whatever you find cute—puppies, kittens, cartoon characters or your own children. Cuteness is the type of attractiveness associated with youth; your “cute” objects no doubt have many youthful traits.
Infants of most species have a small body with a disproportionately large head, big eyes, small nose, chubby limbs and clumsy coordination. Youthful behavior includes playfulness, affection, helplessness, and a need to be nurtured. A few characteristics such as dimples and baby-talk are unique to humans, but most are common across species.
Evolutionary biologists view “cuteness” as simply the mechanism by which infantile features trigger nurturing in adults—a crucial adaptation for survival. Scientific studies find that definitions of cuteness are similar across cultures. So are our responses.
Anyone disheartened by research demonstrating that attractive adults are better liked and better paid than their homelier peers will be further dismayed at studies on infant cuteness. Articles such as “The Infant’s Physical Attractiveness: Its Effect on Bonding and Attachment” document that stereotypically cute babies receive the most attention from both strangers and their own parents. They run less risk of abuse or neglect. Cute children proceed to get better treatment from teachers. Fortunately, most babies are cute enough to attract sufficient nurturing from parents and the world around them. The decline of cuteness normally coincides with the child’s diminished need for caretaking, which gradually shifts toward younger siblings.
Toy manufacturers are well aware of what’s cute. Dolls have grown progressively cuter: first they looked like people, then like children, then like supernormal exaggerations of children. In the 1990s, the Journal of Animal Behavior published a series of articles on a creature not of the wilderness but of the marketplace.
“The Evolution of the Teddy Bear” traced the origin to 1900 when President Theodore Roosevelt was photographed in the Rockies, after a hunt, with a brown bear in the background. The early teddies looked like bears—with a low forehead and a long snout. Over the years, the teddy “evolved” to become the cute popular creature of now, laden with infantile features, including a larger forehead and a shorter snout. “It is obvious that the morphological changes that have occurred in teddies in the short span of a little over 100 years have contributed greatly to their reproductive fitness,” observed the authors. “There seem to be teddies all over the place.”
With tongue in cheek, but metaphor firmly in mind, animal behaviorists continued publishing on the evolution of the teddy. They pointed out that the changes might be likened to mutation, but are actually closer to “intelligent design,” diverting human resources to enable teddies to reproduce at a phenomenal rate.
And that, my dear Digihuman listeners, is why kittens won the internet.
How Dolby is measuring human emotions to hack Hollywood
So you guys can see in Poppy Crum’s fascinating lab. Movies with tech she’s working on are something I couldn’t get enough of 🙂
This can hardly be a spoiler by now – but did you know Hitchcock was hacking your mind with this scene? And all his movies?
Dolby is constantly developing new sound and imaging technologies, and an understanding of how the brain perceives is vital to doing that effectively. “All of our products take advantage of perception in some way. Our codecs are a computational neural model which reduce information but maintain the perceptual experience by getting rid of information which I wouldn’t experience in real life.” One of the products in development is an imaging technology that can produce up to 20 thousand nits (a measure of light emitted per unit area as perceived by the human eye), as opposed to the 450-1000 nits emitted by a typical HDTV display. When Crum watched a video of fire on one of these new screens, something strange happened.
“I was watching a variety of content, all of which was producing the same amount of nits, but when the content was fire, I experienced my cheeks get warm,” Crum explains. “So I used thermal imaging cameras to track people’s faces, and there were changes when they saw flame. When we see flame in real life, our bodies are already preparing to expel heat based on the luminescence which is reaching our retina in conjunction with the fact that we know it’s fire. I ran the same test on HD displays, and you don’t see anything like this. This technology is truly creating a realistic experience by tricking the body.”
If we can create technology that can trick the body, all kinds of new sensory experiences become possible. “You don’t just want to create reality, you want to create something that’s even better. By using the synergistic effects of our senses on each other, we can amplify them so we have heightened experiences and potentially heightened emotional responses. Many species have superpowers, like bats and their ability to navigate. You can look at these species and how their brains have solved problems and use technology to create an experience that is not limited by the physical capabilities of our senses.”