MIT Helps to Create a Nightmare Machine

eight human scary faces

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have decided to form a partnership with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) to create a Nightmare Machine. An AI algorithm capable of transforming normal faces and landscapes into nightmarish images.

The collaboration of MIT and CSIRO was started with the purpose of studying what terrifies humans as a species. Researchers have fed the neural network of the AI with over 200,000 images of normal human faces as well as scary ones. After analyzing this amount of pictures, the Nightmare Machine AI is able to generate its own scary images. However, sometimes researchers have found that the AI produced images that were more weird and goofy than scary.

This is where the team of researchers has asked users to vote which face do they think is scariest so they can collect and implement that data into the AI, in order to improve its deep learning mechanism. After over 200,000 votes, the Nightmare Machine is now able to produce scary images more often. If you are interested in helping this project, feel free to vote what images seems scary or not to you on this MIT webpage.

According to the scientists, the AI algorithm has gradually become increasingly hungrier for more user data and now it seems that it has started to think on its own, in the sense that it can figure out what is scary for humans. Though, the idea of a nightmare machine operating on its own doesn’t seem particularly enticing.

The overarching purpose of the Nightmare Machine and the research project as a whole is to teach machines what humans don’t like and fear so they can apply the opposite. This project helps AI discover what images they should avoid when interacting with humans or trying to comfort them. The process seems a bit more convoluted than you would expect when you set this goal. It is unclear why showing only what humans find pleasant would not be enough as the idea of machines learning what we fear seems somewhat scary.

What do you think about MIT’s Nightmare Machine? Is this the way to teach robots and other machines how to interact with humans?

Image source: MIT


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