The MIT Media Lab has programmed a bot that can generate bone-chilling story stems and collaborate with authors to finish spooky tales. The team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology unveiled the project, named “Shelley” after Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, just in time for Halloween. Shelley compiles the first paragraphs of eerie tales like this one:
“My heart is beating so fast it is a bit shorter than my breathing. I think I’m being stalked. I don’t know what happened to me, or why I was scared of it, but I need to know why. I need to know what happened.”
Humans can add paragraphs to the stories via Twitter and take turns finishing the story with Shelley. The bot’s database contains about 140,000 stories submitted by amateur horror writers who submit them to Reddit’s NoSleep forum. Shelley is no Stephen King; its stories are a little disjointed and nonsensical at times. But the fact that it can string together a somewhat coherent paragraph could have larger implications for computer-generated content in the future. —L.L.