scary monsters (and super creeps)
October 28, 2016 11:35 AM   Subscribe

Nightmare Machine uses a deep-learning algorithm to create Artificial Intelligence-powered "nightmares" from ordinary photographs, and it needs your votes to hone its edge: Scary or Not?

A selection of the spookiest places and scariest faces are being posted on Instagram and Twitter.

Nightmare Machine's algorithm was created by Pinar Yanardag, Manuel Cebrian, and Iyad Rahwan.
posted by amnesia and magnets (23 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I tried the Scary or Not link, and all it gave me was algorithmically-generated pictures of David S. Pumpkins.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:42 AM on October 28, 2016 [16 favorites]


It seems, at least at my first glance hot take, like trying to make images more "scary" on purpose generates less disturbing content than Google Deep Dream does just kind of accidentally.

if anything, some of the styles make things sort of beautiful. "Ghost Town" makes everything feel like a Salvador Dali painting.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:46 AM on October 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


This very morning on my long commute, I thought up a website which used deep learning to generate images and let users vote on if they felt Christmas or not - in a way that a single pumpkin or red leaf can symbolize fall, I wondered what the minimum possible symbol of other seasons could be.
posted by muddgirl at 11:47 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


If it gave you David S Pumpkins it is definitely working because David S Pumpkins is the apex of scary or not.
posted by idiopath at 11:51 AM on October 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


No Christmas yet. It isn't even Hallowe'en. Nobody needs two months of Christmas. NOBODY.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:51 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Are we sure these are supposed to be scary? I got ten straight shoegazer album covers.
posted by Quindar Beep at 11:55 AM on October 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


AmIScaryOrNot.com
posted by tobascodagama at 11:58 AM on October 28, 2016


Or a more serious note, these all kind of resemble pale people who've draped themselves somewhat randomly with rotting meat. Is that a thing people are generally scared of?
posted by tobascodagama at 12:00 PM on October 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh, the non-faces ones are all way better.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:01 PM on October 28, 2016


Nice try Basilisk, but I'm not falling for it.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:12 PM on October 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


I am not sure that it's a good thing to aid an artificial intelligence in the generation of horror.
What goes around comes around.
posted by the Real Dan at 12:13 PM on October 28, 2016 [3 favorites]



Or a more serious note, these all kind of resemble pale people who've draped themselves somewhat randomly with rotting meat. Is that a thing people are generally scared of?



Not really?

Maybe a little.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:15 PM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yes, yes, teaching the machines how to terrify us is a very good plan and not a bad idea at all.
posted by Itaxpica at 12:34 PM on October 28, 2016 [13 favorites]


Or a more serious note, these all kind of resemble pale people who've draped themselves somewhat randomly with rotting meat. Is that a thing people are generally scared of?

I've found that it really depends on one's social circle.

The Scary or Not images point out how silly most horror is. It's horrific imaginary events that rarely happen to people. Far more troubling is being abandoned by a loved one, being betrayed by a friend or discovering how little one matters to the greater world (or the universe). Bogeymen are nothing compared to life itself.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:44 PM on October 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Or a more serious note, these all kind of resemble pale people who've draped themselves somewhat randomly with rotting meat. Is that a thing people are generally scared of?

People who've had their faces turned to hamburger are pretty much the definition of the Bad Death. Stephen King had much to say about the Bad Death in Danse Macabre, but I got to tell you, most of the things I'm afraid of are because they lead straight to a Bad Death.
posted by Mooski at 12:56 PM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


“Clinton, Drumpf, the White House too, terrifyingly transformed by MIT’s ‘Nightmare Machine,’” Washington Post, Oct. 24, 2016

heh, like how they got a little dig in at the Donald there.
posted by bokinney at 1:01 PM on October 28, 2016


This is a really cool project. I'll be voting on some of their images to help train the AI.

I question the inclusion of images from Syria though, where actual real life horrors are still ongoing.
posted by Loudmax at 1:08 PM on October 28, 2016


The headline/lead photo in the NPR article is an interesting juxtaposition.
posted by Hot Pastrami! at 2:17 PM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I tried the Scary or Not link, and all it gave me was algorithmically-generated pictures of David S. Pumpkins.

Except for the last one, where David S. Pumpkins popped up behind you and asked you if he was scary or not.
posted by lagomorphius at 2:20 PM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Look Around You got there YEARS ago.

WARNING: This is a VERY SCARY image.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:53 PM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's interesting, when all this deep learning- based image manipulation stuff first came out, my reaction was absolutely like WTF AMAZING THIS IS CRAZY YOWIEEE, but it already has acquired this tacky, samey quality to it-- no matter what it's been trained on-- that reminds me of my the way HDR or tilt-shift photography kind of fatigue me.
posted by zokni at 4:52 PM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have arrived to spontaneously agree with the assertion of Itaxpica and also to encourage all to visit my fun new website IfThisClaimedToBeMyFriendWouldITrustItOrNotEvenDuringAnApocalypticWarAgainstMalignantAI.biz.
posted by No-sword at 5:59 PM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


If you want your hellscapes more pornographic, there's open_nsfw- which is, to be clear, NSFW.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:19 PM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


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