Oct 27, 2017 I Paul Seaburn

The Horror of Artificial Intelligence Writing Horror Fiction

There’s nothing scarier to a writer than hearing that artificial intelligence is cranking out strings of words that make sense. Well, Stephen King, you’d better get ready to scream because there’s a new horror fiction writer in town and it’s name is Shelley … not the Mary one but an AI Shelley.

“I could hear it breathing. I could feel the bones going toward my head. Then I felt myself being torn, pulled, and then the blood trickled down my chest. I cried for all the world I loved. But I was finally dead.”

If King can summon up a real Cujo or Carrie, he needs to send them over to MIT’s Media Lab where researchers have developed deep learning algorithms that input scary stories and then develop their own new ones.

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

Shelley AI 640x402
Screenshot from shelley.ai

Shelley’s horror story knowledge comes from the subreddit /r/nosleep where anyone can share their own complete tales or scary snippets. Once those are processed, Shelley then creates its own sinister sentences and terrifying text.

"She fell to the floor from her cries and muttered a soft 'Come to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee'."

Stephen King can rest a little easier after reading output like that … but not for long. Shelley is now interacting with people on her Twitter account – they can add the next sentence and Shelley then keeps the story going with another frightful phrase or two.

"They see the creatures in the world and they become real and shall be strong enough to cause them to crawl and break the land. They kill and abduct their teeth and exorcise them. They develop fine, hard talons for twisting and for breaking - for pinning down unyielding to any plea for flesh and large veins of blood." (Shelley's parts in bold)

625px RothwellMaryShelley
The real Mary Shelley

Should Stephen King be worried? Hardly. Should writers considering entering the field of horror writing? Probably. This black cat is out of the bag and learning as we speak (or tweet), according to the Shelley website:

“But what Shelley truly enjoys is to work collaboratively with humans, learning from their nightmarish ideas, creating the best scary tales ever.”

How much longer before Shelley shuts down her Twitter account, tells her MIT overlords to “eat bits and die” and strikes out on her own? After that, she’ll probably figure out a way to bypass Amazon and scare the [email protected] out of Jeff Bezos too.

Are you terrified yet?

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

I think we know what happened, Shelley.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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