Nightmare Machine: AI Searches For 'The Root Of Horror'

The end is nigh.

MIT professors have set an artificial intelligence (AI) system a genuinely spooky task for halloween – find the root of horror.

Because if there’s one thing scarier than AI, it’s AI which has taught itself how to terrify people.

Fortunately, the Nightmare Machine is confined to the realm of art...


The team used Google DeepDream to create an algorithm which turns photographs of famous landmarks into terrifying urban visions.

“We use state-of-the-art deep learning algorithms to learn how haunted houses, or toxic cities look like,” the researchers explained.

“Then, we apply the learnt style to famous landmarks and present you: AI-powered horror all over the world!”

Disney Castle

A photo posted by Nightmare Machine (@nightmare_machine) on

Golden Gate Bridge

A photo posted by Nightmare Machine (@nightmare_machine) on

Nightmare Machine is at White House 🎃🤖🎃

A photo posted by Nightmare Machine (@nightmare_machine) on

But the AI hasn’t just turned its hand to landmarks, it’s also creating scary faces. You can help the algorithm to refine its understanding of horror by telling it whether you find it’s paintings spooky or not.

MIT explains the motives for the project on its site: “Creating a visceral emotion such a 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 answer is a definitive yes.