Today, while mowing the lawn at Dre’s house I had an interesting experience. As I stopped to take a break, I noticed Lila, one of Dre’s cats, sitting in the kitchen window. When I walked to the window to say hi, Lila appeared to get very skittish1. She shifted position and began to furiously smell the window. At first this behavior puzzled me. As far as I could tell, I wasn’t making any motion that could be interpreted as threatening. So what was causing this reaction?

Then it occurred to me: Lila was sniffing so furiously because she couldn’t smell me through the window. So, for her, a key sensory identifier was missing. Perhaps she was experiencing cognitive dissonance or some feline version of Freud’s Uncanny. Either way, I suspect that she didn’t know how to resolve the fact that the entity in front of her looked like me but had no smell. I had essentially become a “bot” to her: something that appear to simulate myself without manifesting all of the necessary components to be me.

1 – Admittedly Lila is often very skittish, so I could be completely misinterpreting her behavior.