The Madeleine Brand Show is a daily, two-hour program that looks at news and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by Madeleine Brand
Airs

Mitt Romney's robot problem




Despite Mitt Romney's success, he's had challenges getting voters to find him relatable.
Despite Mitt Romney's success, he's had challenges getting voters to find him relatable.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Listen to story

07:40
Download this story 3.0MB

While Mitt Romney is perceived as very presidential – the perfect family man with business credentials and a slick demeanor – many voters and pundits have found him difficult to relate to.

He’s been described many times as “robotic,” so writer Brian Fung decided to figure out what was behind that. He applied actual robot theory to Romney to see if it could explain the candidate’s relatability problems, and found Romney sits in the so-called “uncanny valley” on the robot continuum.

In other words, Romney is so near to presidential perfection that we almost relate to him, but his social awkwardness among ordinary people causes a jarring discomfort – like an extremely lifelike robot that disturbs us rather than engendering empathy.

Guest:

Brian Fung is a member of the Chairman's Innovation Lab at the Atlantic Media Company