one of the big musical numbers from The
Life Of Brian, Eric Idle reminds us to “always
look on the bright side of life.” Norman, a new artificial
intelligence project from MIT, doesn’t know how to do that.
is a psychopath, just like the Hitchcock character that inspired
the research team to create him.
so many of these projects do, the MIT researchers started out by
training Norman on freely available data found on the Web. Instead of
looking at the usual family-friendly Google Images fare, however, they
pointed Norman toward darker imagery. Specifically, the MIT crew stuck
Norman in a creepy subreddit to do his initial training.
with this twisted mass of digital memories, Norman was then asked to
caption a series of Rorschach inkblots. The results are predictably
creepy. Let’s have a look at a couple, shall we?
You’ve got to hand it to Norman, he paints a vivid picture. He’s not
always as prosaic, but he does always stick to the darkest timeline.
You know, the one where Abed tries to cut off Jeff’s arm with a bone
AI thinks wedding,
Norman thinks funeral.
Or maybe crime scene.
MIT team hit the nail on the head when it said: “Norman suffered from
extended exposure to the darkest corners of Reddit.” Fortunately,
there’s still hope for this disturbed AI.
we all get together and re-train
him by submitting our own answers to MIT’s
test images maybe Norman can start seeing the world through slightly
more rose-colored glasses. Then again, it could also backfire
way, it reinforces one very important fact about AI: that the
worldview of an AI is very much determined by the information it
gathers while learning. That’s obviously not a new revelation. We saw
something similar play out when Microsoft’s Twitter bot went from
normal to racist in less than 24 hours.