Skynet wants to kill us all

Who ever would have thought that the Terminator series would actually have something useful to tell us about the future?

Researchers have seen hundreds of children’s books through the eyes of an AI – and it was a nightmare.

The team trained a deep learning algorithm to recognize illustrations by feeding it a data set of 6,468 pages from 223 books, by 24 artist.

Once the AI had learned the characteristics of a specific artist, it transferred them to a new image that is sure to give children night terrors – it lit a smiling turtle on fire, engulfed a girl in flames and turned a snow covered scene bottom into an image of the apocalypse.

‘Style transfer model combines the appearance of a style image, e.g. an artwork, with the content of another image, e.g. an arbitrary photograph, by minimizing the loss of content and style,’ researchers from at Hacettepe University and Middle East Technical University in Turkey wrote in the study shared on arXiv.

'In our case, style is learned from an illustration of a particular illustrator, and transferred to another image.’

‘The target image could be a cartoon, a natural photograph, or another illustration from another artist. We expect the resulting image to contain the content of the target image drawn with the style of source illustration.’

For this project, the team used three CNN models in training: ALexNEt, VGG-19 and GoogLeNet.

The team collected images from a range of artists including Dr. Seuss, Marc Brown, Maurice Sendak and more.

During the experiments, researchers had discovered that the AI was able to find parts and objects in the illustrations such as ‘eyes, fish, car/wheel, house, plant, people and clothes, and even discriminate poses such as side views of humans and animals, as well as hair, fur or ears.’

However, as Motherboard reported, the AI was mainly transferring color from one image to the next, which has suggested that color is the main feature that it learned to decipher between different patterns.

The article isn't kidding about what happens when handing art over to an AI. Take a look at what happened when Google's DeepDream AI project had a go at reconstructing an imagine of Bob Ross creating a painting:

Google has brought the late artist Bob Ross back to life, but as a monster-faced figure in a ‘nightmare’ world. An engineer filtered an episode of Ross’s PBS television show ‘The Joy of Painting’ through the artificial neural network DeepDream, which can ‘see’ objects and animals that are not really there
Oh, but it gets worse.

This is what happens when Google's artificial neural network attempts to replicate pictures of cute animals being held by humans:

Then the clip takes viewers to a farm where he pets what is supposed to be cute animals, but instead of a fluffy gerbil in his hands, it appears as if he is holding a creature that morphs from a monkey, to a lizard, to an eight-legged spider. Google trained an artificial neural network by showing it millions of training examples

The neural network transforms the gerbil into an eight-legged creature for what looks like a living nightmare.

So basically, what Google has accomplished here is the creation of its very own real-life Event Horizon simulator- in that you approach it thinking that everything is all fine and dandy, and you come out of it screaming your lungs out and tearing your eyeballs from their sockets as your nightmares take on vivid and horrible form.

I'm largely in favour of artificial intelligence across a range of applications, as a general rule, but even I have to admit that AI is likely to bring just as many dangers as benefits.

Exactly what kinds of dangers that AI will pose, are to be explored in another post- I've had more than one reader request on the subject, which hopefully I can get around to addressing soon.

But for now, have fun trying to sleep at night with that Lovecraftian horror that was DeepDream's version of Bob Ross in your mind.


  1. No wonder they want to kill us....


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