‘Nightmare Machine’ AI Knows Your Fears – Takes Your Innocent Photos and Twists Them, Try it Out!

A new artificial intelligence is transforming  normal images disturbing. The “Nightmare Machine” algorithm seems appropriately named.

Researchers in the U.S. and Australia have created a new algorithm that turns everyday images into nightmare fuel. Though it may seem like just a simple Instagram filter, the “Nightmare Machine” is an ever-changing computer, constantly trying to make itself as frightening as possible.nightmare machine kermit

Images transformed by the Machine are darkened with shadows and saturation as well as many other effects to achieve the desired (or less than desired) effect. Even the fluffiest of images can become something else entirely with this simple feature.

An animation showing Nightmare Machine’s conversion process

According to co-creator Manuel Cebrian, a research scientist at CSIRO Data61 in Australia, the algorithm uses a technique called “deep learning” to store and recall data structures in a way similar to how the human brain works.

“Deep-learning algorithms perform remarkably well in several tasks considered difficult or impossible,” Cebrian said. “Even though there is a lot of room for improvement, some of the faces already look remarkably creepy!”


If the thought of artificial intelligence knowing what scares us echoes a Terminator-esque fear response, this was the reaction intended by the creators. One of the goals of the project was to confront fears of AI seen in various media for decades.

“We know that AI terrifies us in the abstract sense,” said MIT Media Lab researcher and co-creator Pinar Yanardag. “But can AI scare us in the immediate, visceral sense?”

Nightmare machine GLaDOS

“Our research group’s main goal is to understand the barriers between human and machine cooperation,” MIT Media Lab associate professor Iyad Rahwan added. “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!”

Curious people that don’t mind being creeped out can check out the project’s website and official Instagram account.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below and check out these other horror-related headlines… if you dare!

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Eric Hall2687 Posts

Phone-browsing Wikipedia in one hand and clutching his trusty controller in the other, the legendary Eric Hall spreads his wealth of knowledge as a writer for Don't Feed the Gamers. Be sure to catch his biweekly "Throwback Thursday" segment for a nostalgic look at trivia from the past.


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