Can A Machine Write Horror Stories?

//Can A Machine Write Horror Stories?

Appropriately on Halloween, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have taught Artificial Intelligence to write scary stories. Every hour, a new story is posted on Twitter. Some of them are really scary.

The question that faced the developers of the MIT Media Lab was whether they could teach a machine to scare people. For evoking emotions such as fear and fear would be an art previously reserved for human creativity alone.

The expresses itself still above all in horror and horror stories. Not only horror icons like Stephen King, HP Lovecraft or Anne Rice prove that, but countless hobbyists who share their work in communities like the Reddit group r/nosleep. Every day new and always surprisingly good stories are published there. The latter gave the developers of artificial intelligence to read.

Through a deep learning process, the artificial mind should take some inspiration with it. For this, the artificial intelligence determined among other things frequently occurring phrases. It captured closely word pairs, combinations of specific subjects, or even effective opening and closing sentences. This should help her to understand what causes tension and horror. Fittingly, the developers christened their artificial intelligence Shelley – free after Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, who would have turned 220 this year.

Since October 23, Shelley posts a new story every hour on Twitter, each containing several individual tweets. Often consisting of more randomly mixed word pairs and sentence fragments. For example, report of a woman in a black dress, dull razor blades or a box full of stuffed animals. This makes most of the stories more disturbing, silly and surreal than really scary. But some of the short stories also surprise and could almost come from a human author.

“I heard my mother’s voice scream from the darkness. , God dad, please do not hurt me again. Please do not leave me alone. Please. I do not want to be here anymore. ‘ I turned to my left, and for a second split, I could see it here. After all that time, I could make those black eyes above me.

My heart is beating so fast it is a bit shorter than my breathing. I think I’m being stalked. I do not know what happened to me, or why I was scared of it, but I need to know why. I need to know what happened.”

According to MIT Media Lab developers, readers can also help Shelley become a better author. Namely, by responding to their tweets or tapping their own stories under the hashtag #yourturn to complete Shelly.

They are then also summarized on a separate page highlighting the sentences of the human authors and Shelley contributions. Thus, the Twitter users also provide examples where the AI writer or their elements can take them in future stories.

By |2017-12-13T15:18:38+00:00December 13th, 2017|Technology|6 Comments


  1. Joan Miguel Siso Yancen December 21, 2017 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    Innovative, I could say. It’s amazing how technology is doing almost (maybe as equal) what has been done for years, causing fear in people through literature, and the simple fact that a machine can cause emotions is an issue sometimes we are afraid of. We have to accept that this idea is promising and maybe it opens the door for future researchers that will not limit in writing stories, but to make bigger things. I hope artificial intelligence will be one of the bases for the progress. This is an outstanding new, educational and interesting.

  2. Joan Yancen December 22, 2017 at 2:28 am - Reply

    When I first read this article I thought about two points that describes what this matter can plant in the people. At first, It’s amazing how technological advances give us everyday more promising projects that build an innovative future. The reserch made by Massachusetts Institute of Technology open the door for more projects that will not limit in only writing stories, but doing more usefull works that can make the progress and human develop a little easier. The second point I took from this article resides in the fact that artificial intelligence is doing almost (maybe the same) what human has done for years by himself. It is well known that literature, as an expression of the culture of human being is not only words, it is something deeper and the way in which a program can do it is a matter we have to think about. Question to yourself, will there be a program in the future that will replace all the human life? Maybe it´s a guess not important, but maybe not. Good article!

  3. Daniel Ogeto O. December 23, 2017 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    Very interesting and insightful article. When you think that digital technology would not advance any faster, you get easily short-changed by the intense way technology is applied and the many innovative startups that dot the digital landscape. While conjuring scary stories is on the silly side of what AI can currently do, this challenge is especially important in a time where we wonder what the limits of artificial intelligence are: Can machines learn to scare us? But using language to scare us is a trickier challenge than creating scary images–especially because most images generated by neural networks are pretty creepy–or at least uncanny–to begin with. Designing an AI that can write coherently is difficult, given the complexity and variation of human language. Yet Shelley’s stories are intelligible, perhaps because scary stories rely heavily on tropes. The stories themselves are certainly unsettling, some more so than others. But what makes Shelley so compelling is that it’s not just an algorithm throwing together some words–it’s working actively with people to imagine new things that go bump in the night. It’s part of a vision of artificial intelligence that augments and complements human capacity, rather than replacing it. Shelley is an example of human-in-the-loop AI design–which makes this clever spooky story generator a model for working with AI. Because, after all, Shelley’s stories wouldn’t be nearly so creepy without her human collaborators.

  4. George Mburu December 26, 2017 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    Its amazing how innovative people are. Digital Technology innovations never seem to end. Am surprised by how far people have moved with Artificial Intelligence. Its so inspiring to learn that a machine can be full of such knowledge. This shows that with the emerging technology, machines will be able to do alot unbelievable things. Its amazing how Shelley, a machine, can construct and write a scary story on its on. Something I thought only humans can do. I don’t see any reason as to why we should not call this magic. Machine learning has brought up digital transformation to another level. Its seems machines are getting closer to humans if if they have the intelligence even to invoke emotions like fear to humans.

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