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MIT researchers made a Twitter bot that writes horror stories based on Reddit posts because… why not?

Every year, Halloween brings us all kinds of crazy costumes, pumping parties and of course, spooky stories. This just takes the latter to a whole new level.

Armed with intelligence and way too much spare time, a team of researchers from the MIT Media Lab have developed an AI program and taught it to write the beginnings of original horror stories all on its now.

Named ‘Shelley’ after Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, the program manifests itself as a Twitter bot and uses /r/nosleep on Reddit as a source for its content.

/r/nosleep is a popular subreddit where users submit their own horror stories and read those written by others. Shelley draws data from over 140,000 stories written there and uses these to create its (her?) own story beginnings and post them on Twitter every hour.

Users are then invited to continue the story, and Shelley will actually respond if it gets popular enough.

The results are genuinely fascinating, with Tweets ranging from the bizarre and nonsensical to the genuinely creepy.

Here are some of the better ones (they are split into two or three parts, so read the parent Tweet before the replies):

And here are a couple that are so bad you have to laugh:

“Shelley’s creative mind has no boundaries,” the research team says. “She writes stories about a pregnant man who woke up in a hospital, a mouth on the floor with a calm smile, an entire haunted town, a faceless man in the mirror … anything is possible!”

Their words shouldn’t be taken lightly. Since Shelley draws inspiration from Reddit, there’s some pretty disturbing adult content that spews forth from time to time.

The team behind Shelley say they want to find out more about how humans emotionally respond to machines – or more specifically, how machines can evoke these responses.

We think they just get a kick out of scaring and amusing people by creating a kick-ass Twitter bot. Not that we have a problem with that.

Check out Shelley’s Twitter page for the latest stories or head to the project’s website for an archived collection.

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