Emerging Technologies

Meet Shelley, the AI that is learning to write horror stories for Halloween 

Shelley AI screengrab

Shelley AI is an author powered by deep-learning algorithms and is penning one scary story every hour. Image: Shelley AI screengrab

Callum Brodie
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Artificial Intelligence

You may have heard horror stories about killer robots that can think for themselves. But what about an intelligent machine that actually writes its own spine-tingling tales?

In the lead up to Halloween, Shelley AI, which is named after Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, is penning one scary story every hour.

Created by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, the AI author is powered by deep-learning algorithms that allow it to collaborate with budding human horror writers.

For those daring enough to take a glimpse into Shelley AI’s nightmare-inducing mechanical mind, finished articles can be found on its dedicated Twitter page.

Stories will be tweeted once an hour until 31 October Image: Shelley AI, Twitter

It’s alive! How Shelley AI was created

There are few things more frightening than the human imagination, which is why Shelley AI was trained on spooky stories collected from Reddit users.

Although the technology is capable of coming up with its own ideas, it works better when provided with inspiration from human contributors.

It is hoped that the creation will eventually end up producing the world’s first AI-human horror anthology.

How can I join in?

Getting involved in the spooky storytelling is easy – all you need is a Twitter account and an imagination.

Shelley AI will tweet a new short story every hour. In order to contribute to the tale, users can reply with up to three tweets.

Contributors will need to end their tweet with the hashtag ‘#yourturn’ if they want Shelley AI, or others, to continue the thread of the story.

The hashtag ‘#theend’ is used at the end of a tweet to conclude a story.

Shelley AI responds selectively to the top hundred most popular stories every day. These are measured by a combination of likes and retweets.

‘I saw the man hanging in the corner’

Shelley AI has been churning out stories hourly since Monday 23 October.

Some of the most eerie opening lines so far include:

Image: Shelley AI, Twitter
Image: Shelley AI, Twitter
Image: Shelley AI, Twitter

Once consigned to the pages of spooky science fiction novels, artificial intelligence is no longer simply a plot-line – it is now creating its own literature.

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