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MIT Media Lab Created Shelley and the Nightmare Machine: AI Designed to Horrify.

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posted on Nov, 2 2017 @ 09:29 AM
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A few days ago (Halloween), MIT Media Lab unveiled Shelley-- an AI which generates the first lines of fictional horror stories and invites writers to contribute to a collaborative horror piece via Twitter. Shelley's creators programed it to comb through r/nosleep stories to gain a deeper understanding of the human psyche, and that which horrifies us. It takes inspiration from the tales to spin its own creepy and strangely creative ideas.

There is a great overview of the project on the site. Here's an interesting snippet:

The summer of 1956 -- this time, a hot one -- brings Marvin Minsky and other brilliant minds together at Darthmouth College. In an explosion of creativity, they plant the seeds of what Artificial Intelligence would become: developing programs able to beat humans at checkers, to do complex math; some of these machines were even able to formulate English sentences. Rumour went that the first sentences typed by a computer were "TRICK OR TREAT?"

shelley.ai...
Huh. Interesting "first words", no? I tried to verify that or find other sources but came up empty.

The team at MIT has also created the "Nightmare Machine" which is designed to create terrifying imagery, and invites people to rate its work so it can better develop its ability to inspire fear and horror.
nightmare.mit.edu...

An example of Shelley's "ideas":

‘ I still have nightmares and I have been ignoring the lights and I have one last nightmare about my last dream. I wake up in a pool of blood and smell like a mouse from a storm and I am so sleepy I can't move, I can't move anymore. I let out a gasp and then I can hear out of nowhere THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP.’



‘ She fell to the floor from her cries and muttered a soft 'Come to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee'.’


The above link has these and more- along with the human contibutors and Shelley's interacive stories with them. I find it really interesting the way the AI interacts with the human authors, and which stories it leaves untouched.

Enjoy the read! (Not sure how comfortable I am with this software but...)


edit on 2-11-2017 by zosimov because: (no reason given)




posted on Nov, 2 2017 @ 09:37 AM
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a reply to: zosimov


I wake up in a pool of blood and smell like a mouse from a storm and I am so sleepy I can't move,

Obviously inspired by silicon synapses...

That bot is off its meds.



posted on Nov, 2 2017 @ 09:51 AM
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a reply to: zosimov






‘ I still have nightmares and I have been ignoring the lights and I have one last nightmare about my last dream. I wake up in a pool of blood and smell like a mouse from a storm and I am so sleepy I can't move, I can't move anymore. I let out a gasp and then I can hear out of nowhere THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP.’


Sounds like 'Shelley' has pinched a few words from each 'story' it read/heard and randomly strung them together to form the nonsensical word-soup quoted above.

Apart from that, yeh great robot.



posted on Nov, 2 2017 @ 09:54 AM
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Well supposedly right after the first author was published, the first critic emerged.



I don't think the writing is remarkable, either. But it does follow basic syntax. Considering the complexity of written language, I'd say this is an interesting step in AI's linguistic (poor choice of word in this case) development!
edit on 2-11-2017 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 2 2017 @ 10:00 AM
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Are we sure this isnt a Halloween (er Devil's Night) Prank??




posted on Nov, 2 2017 @ 10:05 AM
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a reply to: IgnoranceIsntBlisss



Not sure what you mean precisely. MIT pranking people by pretending to be AI or...?



posted on Nov, 2 2017 @ 10:54 AM
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Very interesting and worth looking deeper at, but...at the end it says 2016 the Horror Machine. It looks like this was over a year ago. Did it get dropped, or what?



posted on Nov, 2 2017 @ 11:06 AM
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a reply to: TexasTruth

I think it's interesting too! I'm especially fascinated by the interactive element.

The Nightmare Machine (I think this is what you're referring to) was created and I linked it in the OP. It generates "creepy" imagery and you can rate faces based on whether they scare you or not to help develop the technology.





posted on Nov, 2 2017 @ 11:54 AM
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a reply to: zosimov

Has this bot been reading reddit?



And who can forget this gem...was this a Shelley A.I construct?



Cleverbot is more intelligent than this...thing. Hell a few random words could be more scary.




Years ago my father was driving a truck and he saw a cactus that looked like his daughter, and when he got out to look, the cactus was gone and my daughter said nooooooooooooo


Some folk have preconceived notions about AI. Once they can create and replicate by themselves, then we might have a problem. Until then automatons will share a symbiotic relationship with humans.



posted on Nov, 2 2017 @ 12:03 PM
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originally posted by: Thecakeisalie
a reply to: zosimov

Has this bot been reading reddit?



That's what it said, right in the OP-- r/nosleep inspired tales.

The interactive aspect, which is in the link, is the more fascinating part to me, but everyone wants to harp on the literary quality. But I agree that Shelley has a long way to go before honoring its namesake.

The potential for AI gone wrong was only one (I thought interesting) aspect that I was hoping to discuss.

Anyone have any comments on the collaborative stories which have been generated so far? (In link) That's the fascinating aspect to me- the way that Shelley responds to the input by online contributers.



edit on 2-11-2017 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 2 2017 @ 01:35 PM
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AI ends up writing horror story about itself.
It becomes sad and self-terminates.



posted on Nov, 2 2017 @ 01:40 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

I wonder what happens if it can project the story ideas in holographic form?
edit on 11/2/2017 by starwarsisreal because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 2 2017 @ 02:02 PM
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a reply to: starwarsisreal



There's a Black Mirror episode called Playlist about a horror video game which uses the gamer's worst fears against him.

www.imdb.com...

Like the rest of the series, it seems quite plausible.
edit on 2-11-2017 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 2 2017 @ 02:36 PM
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No way I'm I signing up to Twitter just to communicate with some sketchy AI program.



posted on Nov, 3 2017 @ 12:35 AM
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That's not a story.

That's a bunch of gibberish.

"I woke up in a pool of blood smelling like a mouse"

We need new engineers on this one and sorry, that's not AI. That's downs syndrome.



posted on Nov, 3 2017 @ 12:45 AM
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I see a lot of criticism of the writing style provided in these snippets, but you can't judge a story from a couple of lines. Some stories read like drug-induced, stream-of-consciousness flights of fancy while others read more like Farmer's Almanacs.

The quality cannot be apparent from such a small sample.

Hell, the opening lines of Flowers for Algernon are a good example.

EDIT: I actually went and read one of the stories. I stand corrected. It's crap.
edit on 3-11-2017 by Dudemo5 because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 3 2017 @ 04:08 AM
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a reply to: zosimov

You guys must understand how easy is to automate text generation. If you know something about code you will run this script
github.com...
It's crap because computers are relatively slow. If you take 100 petaflops and very large book dataset you can automate sci-fi writing for example. You can stimulate neurons on deepest layers and extract epicness or other features.



posted on Nov, 3 2017 @ 09:36 AM
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a reply to: Dudemo5

Well at least you followed the link!




posted on Nov, 3 2017 @ 07:34 PM
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This isn't a story-telling AI, it's a program for cobbling together almost-grammatical sentences out of a vaguely-defined lexicon, and my feeling is that it was chiefly a publicity stunt feeding into/from Twitter and Reddit designed precisely to get people talking on Twitter and Reddit. Why? Because if your lab gets coverage, your research might get more funding.

It's a sorry state of affairs when this sort of clowning around is presented to the public as some kind of breakthrough. If it were actually asking for public donations, I would unhesitatingly describe it as a scam.

Re: That Minsky story about "Trick or Treat." If you believe that, I have a bridge for sale. (It has echoes of other bits of Cold War computing apocrypha, e.g., the automatic Russian-English translator that received the input sentence "Out of sight, out of mind" and rendered it into the words "Invisible maniac," or the Pentagon computer that in 1968 was fed all the official data about Vietnam and "predicted" that the USA would win the war in 1965.)



posted on Nov, 3 2017 @ 10:12 PM
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a reply to: audubon
What else is there to say?

10/10 commenters in agreement.. not much else to add!



thanks for taking the time to comment and well if you do know the first words ai produced I'd love to hear it.



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