This Terrifying Robotic Mouth Chants AI-Generated Prayers

"The Prayer is an art installation that tries to explore the supernatural through AI with a long term experimental setup."

Our goal here at Hackster is to empower members of maker community to tackle any project they can imagine. We’re always amazed by the innovative builds you all come up with, but sometimes we worry about some of you. This robotic mouth that chants AI-generated prayers, for example, is quite disturbing.

This thing was created by Diemut Strebe in collaboration with many others from MIT CSAIL (Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) and other institutions. It’s called “The Prayer” and is ostensibly an art installation. That said, we think they created it for no other reason than to give us all nightmares. When The Prayer is switched on, a fairly realistic silicone mouth begins chanting prayers. Those prayers are generated in real time through a neural network-based machine learning software. The team says that it’s intended to answer the question “how would a divine epiphany appear to an artificial intelligence?” After seeing and hearing The Prayer operate, we think that’s a question best left unanswered.

As you can see in the video, the mouth — which sits below an equally unsettling nose — moves along with the chanting. AI is used to generate the text for the prayers, and also to synthesize the realistic sounding voice thanks to Amazon Polly. It’s able to continuously generate new prayers, meaning that this eerie robot could keep chanting endlessly until someone has the courage to turn it off. The machine learning system was trained with writings from the Bible, Bhagavad Gita, Rig Veda, Quran, the Thirteen Classics of Confucianism, Taoist Zhuang Zhou, The Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism, The Talmud, The Book of Mormon, the MayanBook of the Dead, The Popol Vuh, and many others. That means that people of just about any faith can be equally creeped out by this unholy robot.

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