Halloween Fun: AI answers what to wear and how to scare

5 minutes read

Key points:

  • An artificial neural network (ANN) can now pop out last-minute scarily funny Halloween costume ideas.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) can enable more personalized choices. Now, deep learning systems allow human collaboration to create new horror stories. 
  • With hilarious Halloween costume ideas and terrifying horror stories, Artificial Intelligence makes Halloween even more fun.

Don't know what to wear for Halloween? Fear not. AI will come up with an entirely new costume idea for you.

Imagine you show up to a Halloween party in the exact same costume as another guest. Perhaps, the pressure of dressing up in an entirely new and unique way is even curbing all your creativity and the thrill of anticipation as October 31 draws near. But isn't Halloween supposed to be fun?

Surrender and let researcher Janelle Shane and AI generate a mashed-up costume idea for you.

What is an artificial neural network? 

An artificial neural network (ANN), also called a neural network, is an information processing pattern inspired by the biological nervous systems, such as the brain, process information. It is composed of a large number of highly interconnected processing elements (neurons) working in unison to solve specific problems. ANNs, like people, learn by instances. The system gets input, processes it and generates an output, just like the biological neuron.

The brain is the human body's most complex organ. It helps us to think, understand and make decisions. The secret behind all its power is neurons. For a long time, scientists have been trying to mimic the function of a neuron so they can build smarter robots. After a lot of trial and error, humans finally designed a computer that can recognize human speech. It was only after the year 2000 that humans were able to give birth to "deep learning", which was then able to see and distinguish between different images and videos.

What exactly is deep learning? It is a machine learning technique that teaches computers to do what comes to humans naturally. For example, robots learn by viewing images. Deep learning is a subset of AI. It comprises artificial neural networks with multiple hidden layers. ANN is a way of implementing deep learning.


Deep neural networks, which mimic the human brain, have demonstrated their ability to "learn" from image, audio and text data. Nevertheless, even after being in use for more than a decade, there's still a lot we don't know about deep learning, including how neural networks learn or why they perform so well. It is suggested that after an initial setup phase, a deep neural network will forget and compress noisy data. Noisy data is the data set containing a lot of additional meaningless information while still preserving information about what the data represents. Understanding precisely how deep learning works enables its greater development and use.

Now the fun part...  

Research scientist Janelle Shane has built a neural network capable of popping out brand-new costume ideas.

Shane started by accumulating more than 4,500 examples of Halloween costumes from her readers. These functioned as the neural network's input. The ANN then mixed and matched multiple costumes to generate its own set of ideas: Spartan Gandalf, Dancing Belly fish, the Cat of Liberty, Professor Panda and Petty Fairy are just some examples of the funny results.

The neural network trained by Shane has already created some not-so-sexy ideas and a few quirky shark costumes.



The response by the audience was amazing. Here's how some of Shane's Twitter followers replied:


Shane has also programmed neural networks to create hilarious names for metal bands and craft beers. She did this with a data set of more than 1000,000 bands, sub-genres and countries of origin, and with more than 4,000 craft breweries in the United States alone.

Meet Shelley, the world's first collaborative horror writer  

Shelley is yet another fun application of AI that is made to horrify. The bot is the world's first collaborative AI horror writer.

Postdoctoral associate Pınar Yanardağ, research scientist Manuel Cebrian and Associate Professor Iyad Rahwan from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created Shelley. The bot is named after "Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus" writer Mary Shelley. Shelly is a deep learning system powered by artificial intelligence that was trained on more than 140,000 horror stories. The stories from Reddit’s r/nosleep forum act as the data set for the bot. Shelley lives on Twitter. Every hour, @shelley_ai tweets out the beginning of a new horror story and hashtag #yourturn to invite human collaborators. Anyone is welcome to reply to the tweet with the next part of the story, then Shelley will reply again with the next part, and so on. The results are weird, fun and unpredictable horror stories that represent both collaboration and creativity.

The World Economic Forum depicts Shelly in the form of a visual, which is terrifying too.

Deep learning is also building an artificial brain. Google demonstrated one of the largest neural networks in the past, with more than a billion connections. The neural network was designed to simulate human cognitive processes, running on 16,000 computers. After studying around 10 million images, it was capable of identifying cats. Deep learning is a crucial part of AI development, statistical analysis and data processing.

We saw how deep learning is majorly used in pattern recognition and classification applications powered by extensive data sets. From creating costumes to terrifying people to building a brain, deep learning and neural networks are ushering in far-reaching changes in the world in the near future.

Shane's neural network and Shelly are just two examples of how neural networks can make Halloween more fun in an entirely new, futuristic way.

Now that you know what to wear and how to scare, have a happy and spooky Halloween!

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