They said no good could come of mankind's quest to give machines intelligence, and now it seems they were right, for we’ve created a monster. Spawned at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, a new artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm known as Nightmare Machine feeds off human fears in order to create disturbing and twisted images that are designed to terrify us.
In an email to Live Science, the abomination’s developers explained that the project was inspired by the anxiety generated by those who warn that AI will one day turn against its human creators and kill us all. “We know that AI terrifies us in the abstract sense,” said co-developer Pinar Yanardag. “But can AI scare us in the immediate, visceral sense?”
The Haunted White House. Nightmare Machine via Instagram
Nightmare Machine was therefore cobbled together as part of an attempt to see if AI can tap into the human mind and learn what scares us, before using this to exploit our fears.
The creators used a deep learning algorithm, based on the neural networks of the human brain, to teach their machine what makes an image frightening. They then released the monster from its shackles, allowing it to use this data to transform photos of faces and buildings into horrifying images.
Bart Simpson gets the nightmare treatment. Nightmare Machine via Instagram
Brave members of the public are now being asked to rate the creepiness of these deformed faces and twisted landmarks, in order to help the machine refine its algorithm and become even more evil.
"Elon Musk said that with the development of AI, we are 'summoning the demon,'" co-creator Iyad Rahwan told Live Science. "We wanted to playfully explore whether and how AI can indeed become a demon, that can learn how to scare us, both by extracting features from scary images and subsequent refinement using crowd feedback."
Does it ever feel like you're being asked to vote for the lesser of two evils? Nightmare Machine via Instagram