MIT Creates A Psychopathic AI Named Norman, Because Why Not

mit norman

mit norman

The Massachusets Institute of Technology’s website for Norman, world’s first psychopathic AI is oddly cheerful and optimistic. A creepy combination of Norman Bates (from the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock Movie Psycho) and a robot stares at you and dares you “explore what Norman sees”.

Reportedly, the MIT team created Norman as part of an experiment to see what training artificial intelligence on data from the “dark corners of the net” would do to its worldview. The researchers said Norman was born from the fact that the data that is used to teach a machine learning algorithm can significantly influence behaviour. “So when people talk about AI algorithms being biased and unfair, the culprit is often not the algorithm itself, but the biased data that was fed to it,” the website explains.


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It clearly works, because like in a Rorschach test, Norman sees only dark and creepy things, while a norman AI thinks more rationally.

norman ink blot 1

The researchers explained that Norman “suffered from extended exposure to the darkest corners of Reddit”, and thus represented a case study on the dangers of AI going wrong when biased data is used in machine learning algorithms.

norman ink blot 2

Norman is an AI that is trained to perform image captioning; a popular deep learning method of generating a textual description of an image. “We trained Norman on image captions from an infamous subreddit (the name is redacted due to its graphic content) that is dedicated to document and observe the disturbing reality of death. Then, we compared Norman’s responses with a standard image captioning neural network (trained on MSCOCO dataset) on Rorschach inkblots; a test that is used to detect underlying thought disorders,” said the researchers.

But this is not the first time that researchers have tried to explore the dark side of AI. In 2016, MIT had created a ‘Nightmare Machine’ for AI-generated scary imagery. Here, they had collected over two million votes from people all over the world to find out the answer to this question: can AI not only detect but induce extreme emotions (such as fear) in humans? Later in 2017 they created Shelley, world’s first collaborative AI Horror Writer. It was a deep-learning powered AI who wrote over 200 horror stories collaboratively with humans.


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Prajakta Hebbar
Prajakta is a Writer/Editor/Social Media diva. Lover of all that is 'quaint', her favourite things include dogs, Starbucks, butter popcorn, Jane Austen novels and neo-noir films. She has previously worked for HuffPost, CNN IBN, The Indian Express and Bose.

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