MIT’s ‘Nightmare’ Machine Uses AI to Make Photos Terrifying


A trio of scientists from MIT’s Media Lab decided to get creative for Halloween … and just maybe scare the pants off of you. So if you’re wondering how Kermit turned into undead Kermit, meet the aptly-named ‘Nightmare Machine.’

Hope you put the kids to bed for this one (although I’m afraid there’ll be no such reprieve for you) because the Nightmare Machine delivers on its terrifying promise. Developed by Pinar Yanardag, Manuel Cebrian, and Iyad Rahwan, the trio used deep learning algorithms to ‘teach’ a computer how to transform a regular photo of a face or place into something straight out of your worst nightmare—hence the name.

You can see a ton of example images on the project’s Instagram account… if you’re brave enough. (P.S. Is it any surprise that the scariest photo on there features the candidates in the US presidential race?)

But the algorithm doesn’t just work with portraits, places are fair game too; in fact, it’s a lot more versatile in that department. The scientists have taught their machine to apply one of 8 different “horror” styles to a photo of a place, ideally a big monument or building.

There’s Haunted House:


Toxic City:




And 5 more to choose from. Unfortunately, you can’t submit your own images to transform, but you can still participate in the project. For their Faces section, MIT is asking people to help the computer learn what is scary by letting you vote on transformed portraits and tell the algorithm if the result is scary or not.

So either check out the Nightmare Machine Instagram to see more creepy creations, or head over to the Nightmare Machine website to help them improve their horrifying algorithms… for science.

(via Laughing Squid)