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MIT’s Nightmare Machine puts Halloween scares in hands of AI

How often do we hear about how terrifying progress in the Artificial Intelligence community is becoming? Well this Halloween such comments come with some justification.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have built a Nightmare Machine, which uses machine learning techniques to turn photos into frightening scenes akin to horror films.

The haunted faces and haunted places project uses state of the art algorithms to play on our fears of AI.

Portraits have been zombified and famous locations from around the world have been converted into the stuff of nightmares.

For example, the Taj Mahal becomes a slaughter house, Rome’s Colosseum warps into a haunted house, and Tower Bridge looks like it has been engulfed by an inferno.

Effectively, MIT scientists have used Google’s DeepDream program to teach the machines what a haunted house should look like and then puts the algorithms to work.

Here’s the Nightmare Machine doing its thing, you can check out more on the Instagram page.


“We found it appropriate to explore how machines, themselves, can generate the scary content,” Manuel Cebrian, one of the creators, told the Boston Globe. “So we launched the Nightmare Machine.”

Iyad Rahwan at the Media Lab added: “Psychological perceptions of what makes humans tick and what make machines tick are important barriers for such cooperation to emerge.

“This project tries to shed some light on that front — of course in a goofy, hackerish Halloween-manner.”

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