The ‘Nightmare Machine‘ is a US-Australian artificial intelligence creation that transforms regular pictures into scary images. Scientists wanted to explore if computers running AI algorithms were capable of learning what makes people afraid.

The experiment is not only scary because of the images but because it proves that computers can learn what frighten us. Meaning that the information could be used against us in the future some people fear, the future where machines rule the world.

Slaughterhouse-style Colosseum. Image Credit: MIT

Scientists behind the “Nightmare Machine” project wanted to explore social anxiety inspired by intelligent machines and to see if AI was capable of understanding and visualizing the details that make things or people afraid.

The study used a form of artificial intelligence known as “deep learning.” The AI is a system of data structures and programs mimicking the neural connections in a human brain. Co-creator Manuel Cebrian, a principal research scientist at CSIRO Data 61 in Australia, explained that simulating the brain connections teaches the computer what is considered frightening by humans.  

Iyad Rahwan, an associated professor at MIT Media Lab, stated that the team wanted to “playfully” explore whether and how AI could become a computer a piece of technology that can learn how to scare humans using regular images turned to spooky images.

Once “deep learning” taught the computer to recognize the details that make images scary, the logarithm was ready to apply its knowledge to buildings and human faces, even to characters such as Kermit the Frog.

Kermit the Zombie before/after.

A photo posted by Nightmare Machine (@nightmare_machine) on

“Psychological perceptions of what makes humans tick and what makes 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!,” said Rahwan.

The MIT professor stated that the group’s goal was to understand the barriers between human and machine cooperation.

The Nightmare Machine’s creators have used their AI invention to transform various pictures of human faces into a spooky version. The algorithm has transform pictures of Natalie Portman, Angelina Jolie, Ellen DeGeneres and Mickey Mouse into what the computer running “deep learning” technology thinks to scare us. Among the project’s Instagram account posts, spine-chilling versions of known places like Rio de Janeiro, New York, and India are also part of the gallery.

Rahwan and his colleagues have a sense of humor and have used a couple of Hillary and Donald Trump pictures.

Presidental candidates.

A photo posted by Nightmare Machine (@nightmare_machine) on

Source: Live Science