MIT's Psycho Norman AI Proves Reddit Can Make You Insane

Yolanda Curtis
June 10, 2018

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created an artificial intelligence labeled a "psychopath", using disturbing image captions found on Reddit.

Artificial Intelligence is one of those terms that induces a polarising reaction from different people. The goal was to prove that teaching AI to learn in this way would influence its later work and behaviour, highlighting how algorithms themselves aren't biased, but it's the data fed into them that can be. They trained Norman using captions that are dedicated to the reality of death.

Norman is world's first psychopath AI.


Norman is an AI system trained to perform image captioning, in which deep learning algorithms are used to generate a text description of an image.

The team then examined Norman's responses to inkblots used in a Rorschach psychological test.

The team found Norman's interpretations of the imagery - which included electrocutions, speeding auto deaths and murder - to be in line with a psychotic thought process.


The experiment is based on the 1921 Rorschach test, which identifies traits in humans deemed to be psychopathic based on their perception of inkblots, alongside what is known as thought disorders. The researchers note that Norman is a case study aiming to see how AI could turn bad if its machine learning algorithms feed on this kind of data. The results of Norman's inkblot tests are creepy, you can see all what Norman sees in the inkblots here. Another image is captioned as a man with an umbrella by the standard A.I., while Norman sees as "a man shot dead in front of his screaming wife".

Standard AI robot observes: "A black and white photo of a small bird".

Where the control AI identified a couple companionably standing together in harmony, Norman described a pregnant woman falling to her death. In 2016, Microsoft entrusted an AI chatbot, created to learn from and appeal to the youth market, to Twitter.


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.

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