A ‘nightmare machine’ that can spook you

Scientists have created a “nightmare machine” — an artificial intelligence system that can understand what makes certain images frightening, and transform harmless-looking images into the stuff of nightmares. The primary reason for building the machine was to explore common fears inspired by intelligent computers, said researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab. They wanted to confront the anxiety inspired by AI, and simultaneously test if a computer is capable of understanding and visualising what makes people afraid. The designers used “deep learning” — a system that mimics the neural connections in a human brain — to teach a computer what makes for a frightening visual, according to Manuel Cebrian, a principal research scientist at CSIRO in Australia. Deep learning “Deep-learning algorithms perform remarkably well in several tasks…

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