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MIT scientists are foolishly training AI to scare people

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Just in time for Halloween and the presidential election, MIT scientists have created an AI that makes images spooky. Think of it like filter app Prisma, but with a more sinister spin.

A three-person team created an algorithm called Nightmare Machine that generates Halloween-inspired images from pictures of faces and places. It’s not the first creepy AI — Google’s Deep Dream has been creating nightmares since June — but some early results are promising. Like this interpretation of dreamboat Brad Pitt:

The algorithm is still a work in progress, however. In order to teach it, participants are asked to vote on whether or not different sets of faces are scary, therefore helping to refine the process. Despite a lot of hopeful clicking on my part, I’m sad to report that the Nightmare Machine’s idea of creepy faces still needs a lot of help — right now its theory of horror is more botched Jesus fresco than Friday the 13th.

The Haunted Places algorithm is more developed with several filter styles. According to the site, it combines famous landmarks with different creep styles to create images of warped cities. While categories like Haunted Houses or Fright Night look like artsy graphic design projects, the Slaughterhouse style veers hard into horror territory. I’m not 100 percent sure what the “Tentacle Monster” option is all about, but I can tell you that I don’t like it.