A bloody Taj Mahal. A haunted Colosseum. A toxic Capitol Hill.
Welcome to the “Nightmare Machine,” a horror-imagery project created by three researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Pinar Yanardag, Manuel Cebrian and Iyad Rahwan used artificial intelligence algorithms “to learn how haunted houses, or toxic cities look. … Then, we apply the learnt style to famous landmarks and present [to] you: AI-powered horror all over the world!”
The project website is up just in time for Halloween but the method is not new — the algorithm they use is a so-called “deep learning” system published last year by computer scientists, which is capable of creating “artistic images of high perceptual quality” based on examples of images created by humans.
“High perceptual quality” basically means the images look good to people who see them.
The researchers taught the algorithm at least eight horror styles for haunted places: haunted house, fright night, slaughterhouse, toxic city, ghost town, inferno, tentacle monster and alien invasion.
They applied the algorithm’s understanding of the qualities of each style to images of famous landmarks to create creepy computer-generated images of, for example, the Golden Gate Bridge being attacked by a tentacle monster.