Meet Norman: the ‘psychopath’ AI trained on violent Reddit content

Meet Norman: the ‘psychopath’ AI trained on violent Reddit content

Norman, named after Psycho's Norman Bates, is the brainchild of a group of MIT researchers. Post this Norman was trained to generate captions for images. Previous entries include 2016's Nightmare Machine, an AI that applies hellish filters to images, and 2017's collaborative storytelling machine Shelly. Because of technical and ethical concerns, the team at MIT used captions and not actual images of people dying. As Newsweek reports, Norman then responded differently to the testing than the more standard AI, seeing gory auto deaths rather than every day appliances or things like umbrellas.

The Rorschach Test revolves around an individual's perception of inkblots, with responses being analyzed using psychological interpretation.

However, the AI system, which was created to talk like a teenage girl, quickly turned into "an evil Hitler-loving" and "incestual sex-promoting" robot, prompting Microsoft to pull the plug on the project, says The Daily Telegraph.


Based on the results of the test, Norman's response was more disturbing compared to the standard AI. Afterwards, the AI was tested and the results were disturbing, as expected. Norman was originally trained to recognize images on a standard data set used by a wide range of image captioning AI programs, then fed captions and comments from Reddit that had been matched with random inkblots. In another example, the standard AI describes an inkblot as "a black and white photo of a small bird", while Norman describes "man gets pulled into dough machine". You see, in order to teach a machine learning algorithm, it must be fed data and often large amounts of it.

Artificial intelligence sees computers and machines trained to do tasks that historically have required the human brain.

In this case, you can actually try to change the way Norman thinks, by taking the researchers' survey. The experiment also raises several questions regarding the use of AI in the future, particularly seeing how heavily dependent it is on unbiased data. In other words, they never wanted to create a psychopath, but it became maniac as all it knew about the world was learned from the terrible Reddit pages.

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