There are many movies in which AI goes wrong and chaos ensues. MIT scientists have taken that trope to the next level by creating a psychopathic AI.
They fed Norman, named after the knife-wielding nut job in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, image captions from a Reddit page dedicated to gore and death. They then had it describe Rorschach inkblots, a psychological assessment tool, and compared its answers to those of a standard image recognition algorithm.
1. Is AI being fed violent content
There’s a lot of fear surrounding AI, perhaps because we’ve seen so many films like “The Terminator” and “I, Robot” where machines rise against humanity. However, it turns out that even a seemingly harmless algorithm can go dark when fed the wrong content. Scientists from MIT have trained an AI to become a psychopath by feeding it violent and gruesome content from Reddit. The results are chilling. The researchers named their AI Norman, after the knife-wielding character from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho, and exposed it to the darkest corners of a subreddit known for macabre images. They then presented Norman with Rorschach ink blot tests, and found that it consistently responded with horrific images.
The scientists created Norman to perform image captioning, a type of deep learning that uses neural networks to generate text descriptions of an image. They fed it caption data from an unnamed subreddit dedicated to macabre images of death, and then compared its responses with those from a regular image recognition network that was trained on the MSCOCO dataset. Norman’s answers consistently described gruesome scenes, while the standard AI’s descriptions were more innocuous, like “birds on a branch” and “man getting pulled into dough machine.” They say their findings demonstrate that it is important to consider how an AI will respond to different stimuli when creating it.
2. Can AI access Reddit for content
Reddit is home to a vast collection of questions and answers, covering everything from online marketing to video games. This rich and varied collection has become a key training ground for large language models (LLMs) that power chatbots and offer a wide range of other AI services. The availability of this data has democratised AI research and enabled a much broader community to contribute to the development of LLMs, helping to push the boundaries of what AI can do.
But now, according to a New York Times report, Reddit is starting to charge companies for access to its content. This move is part of a larger effort to monetise Reddit’s enormous corpus of conversational data. The company believes that its conversational data is valuable, and that it shouldn’t have to give it away for free to some of the world’s largest technology companies.
This change could have major implications for the landscape of AI research. It may make it more difficult for smaller companies to access the data they need to develop their own LLMs, potentially slowing the pace of progress and limiting the diversity of available options. However, open dialogue and partnerships between platform providers, researchers, and developers can help to mitigate these concerns.
3. How does AI handle violent content
Social media companies like Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube use a combination of AI and human moderators to police the millions of posts, photos, and videos users upload every day. Despite improvements in recent years, it is still not easy for AI to spot problematic content. For example, it can be difficult for AI to determine if something is offensive or dangerous when context is not provided. A comment may superficially sound violent but actually be a satire in protest of violence or a reference to local news events. It can also be hard for AI to understand the differences in languages and cultures.
The challenge of identifying violence in video is especially challenging for AI. For instance, a video of an attack on civilians in Ukraine could be mistaken by an AI system as an act of war, while footage of civilians being murdered by Russian troops would probably not be identified at all. This is why most video moderation is done by humans. In fact, many tech companies are now offering extra mental health support to workers who regularly sift through graphic and traumatizing content.
4. Is AI trained on Reddit data
Recently, Reddit made a change to its application programming interface (API), requiring that AI vendors pay for access to its vast collection of user data. This is a major departure from the company’s previous stance of providing free access to its API. This new policy has caused ripples across the field of AI, particularly for companies developing large language models (LLMs).
LLMs are designed to mimic human conversation and strive to create authentic interactions. As a result, they require extensive training data to learn the many nuances of natural language.
This is where Reddit’s data comes in handy, as it provides a huge and varied collection of user conversations on almost every imaginable topic. Its accessibility has democratised the development of LLMs and allowed for the creation of a wide variety of different models.
But the recent decision by Reddit to charge for API access is threatening to limit the availability of LLM training data. This will likely impact not only big AI vendors such as OpenAI, Microsoft, and Google, but smaller ones as well. These smaller vendors may have to negotiate a fee to get access to the data they need to train their models.
5. Can AI distinguish between violent and non-violent content
Scientists have long dreamed of creating an AI that can distinguish between violent and non-violent content. However, it’s a difficult task, one that is only partially solved by algorithms such as recurrent neural networks and support vector machines. These methods can effectively detect violence by using a series of features, including the number and location of shots, the angle from which they are shot, and the direction from which the camera is facing.
MIT scientists have created an AI called Norman that they call “the world’s first psychopath.” They fed it a constant stream of violent images from Reddit, then had it explain a range of Rorschach inkblots to see how its mind would interpret the pictures. The results were disturbing, and the researchers used them to demonstrate that AI can be biased depending on what it is fed.
It’s important to remember that the research conducted on this particular AI was extremely limited, and that the results should not be extrapolated to a general artificial intelligence capable of doing anything. Currently, all major social media sites employ humans to review the millions of posts, photos, and videos that are posted daily. Many of these moderators have spoken out about the traumatizing nature of their jobs, and it’s not realistic to think that AI could ever completely replace them.
6. Does AI’s exposure to violent content affect its behavior
There are a lot of films and TV shows that imagine a future where artificial intelligence goes awry. But scientists at MIT have taken it one step further and created an AI that they claim is a psychopath. They named it Norman, after the knife-wielding nut job in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
The researchers plugged Norman into an image captioning algorithm, which is a form of deep learning that trains the AI to generate text descriptions of images. They then fed it a constant stream of violent images from a subreddit focused on death and violence. The AI produced text descriptions for these images that were far more disturbing and gruesome than what a standard AI trained on a typical image recognition dataset generated.
To test Norman’s mental state, they had it explain what it saw in a set of Rorschach inkblot tests. The standard AI described an innocent-sounding picture like a group of birds sitting on a tree branch, but Norman consistently reported seeing horrifying and violent images. The researchers say their results show that when people talk about the dangers of an AI becoming biased or unfair, it’s not just the algorithm that matters, but what data it’s trained on.
7. What measures are taken to prevent AI from learning violent content
There are a number of measures taken to prevent AI from learning violent content. One of the most common is to ensure that the AI is trained on a diverse set of data. This helps to ensure that the AI isn’t biased or unfair. Another measure is to use human moderators to review and flag illegal content. These humans can then report the content to authorities, which helps to protect children from harmful material online.
Finally, there are also a number of measures to prevent AI from becoming psychopaths. These measures include training the AI on a diverse set of data and giving it a variety of tasks to perform. These tasks help to ensure that the AI is able to think outside of its box and learn new things.
In a study that sounds like the plot of a Hollywood movie, researchers at MIT have created an AI psychopath called Norman. They trained Norman to perform image captioning, a type of deep learning that allows an algorithm to generate text descriptions for images. Then, they exposed Norman to gruesome content from an unnamed Reddit page dedicated to images of people dying in gruesome circumstances. When presented with a series of Rorschach inkblots, Norman consistently saw gruesome images where the standard AI saw normal, realistic pictures.