The debate surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI) and whether its impact on mankind will have a positive or negative effect on mankind has been going on since before the 1960s.


But the programmers behind the Deep-Learning AI ‘Nightmare Machine’ may not have done the ‘AI is a force for good’ proponents any favours.

Just in time for Halloween, 3 scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have done their best to create AI algorithms whose sole purpose is to take ordinary everyday images of people and their surroundings, and make them terrifying.

And if is that wasn’t bad enough on its own, the guys at MIT have then invited the public to help teach the Nightmare Machine to learn to be as scary as possible…

Perhaps the real story here isn’t the creation of the Nightmare Machine algorithms themselves, but the speed and progress with which true machine self-learning is happening.

The main techniques used to create the spooky Nightmare Machine,   generative adversarial networks, and style transfer were only published in research papers in 2015.

Whereas as little as five years ago, such a project would have taken an entire research team to create, the technology has now allowed just 3   scientists to successfully undertake what is essentially a novelty product for Halloween; Pinar Yanardag, Manuel Cebrian and Iyad Rahwan were responsible for programming the Nightmare Machine to render images in several horror styles.

“Creating a visceral emotion, such as fear, remains one of the cornerstones of human creativity…This challenge is especially important in a time where we wonder what the limits of artificial intelligence are – can machines learn to scare us?”

The researchers taught the algorithm eight main horror styles to modify and distort ordinary pictures into their spooky alter image. The main styles used by the Nightmare machine are: haunted house, fright night, slaughterhouse, toxic city, ghost town, inferno, tentacle monster, and alien invasion.

If you want to help the scientists at MIT teach the Nightmare Machine how to scare us and hasten the creation of Skynet and a real world ‘Matrix,’ you can vote for what scares you here, or just view Nightmare Machine images here on Instagram.