Technology

AI creates gallery of nightmare images for Halloween

MIT vision of second presidential debate Image copyright MIT
Image caption The nightmare machine turned pictures from the second presidential debate into darker visions - the images have an impressionistic, sketchy quality because of the way the AI translates them.

If AI did not already have a bad enough reputation, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are now teaching a machine how to be terrifying.

The Nightmare Machine turns normal images of faces and familiar landmarks into darker versions of themselves.

Members of the public are then being invited to vote for the scariest AI-generated faces.

Doing so will "help our algorithm learn scariness", the scientists said.

Image copyright MIT
Image caption Members of the public can vote on whether the face was scary or not

"Creating a visceral emotion, such as fear, remains one of the cornerstones of human creativity," writes the team.

"This challenge is especially important in a time where we wonder what the limits of artificial intelligence are - can machines learn to scare us?"

Last year, scientists at Google ran a similar experiment - dubbed Deep Dream - in which everyday images were converted into psychedelic visions.

Image copyright MIT
Image caption The algorithm transformed pictures of landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris

As well as being a bit of fun in the lead-up to Halloween, the MIT project illustrates how far AI research has come, said Quartz magazine.

"The two main techniques used in the project, style transfer and generative adversarial networks, were published in papers only last year," writes Dave Gershgorn.

"Now the technology is easy enough to implement in a novelty project made by just three computer scientists."

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