AI learns how to play Super Mario World better than you ever will
A program called "MarI/0" teaches itself to play the SNES classic Super Mario World. Better that than learning mankind's weaknesses so it can take over the world.
CNET freelancer Danny Gallagher has contributed to Cracked.com, Mental Floss, Maxim, Break.com, Mandatory, Jackbox Games, Geeks Who Drink and many, many other publications in his never-ending quest to bring the world's productivity to a screeching halt. He lives and works in Dallas. Email Danny.
The great Stephen Hawking expressed his fears about AI with a creepy story, told to John Oliver on HBO's "Last Week Tonight," about a group of engineers who built a super-intelligent computer. "The first question they asked it was, 'Is there a God?'" Hawking said. "The computer replied, 'There is now,' and a bolt of lightning struck the plug so it couldn't be turned off."
If that joke (that passes for funny in scientists' social circles) is true, we need to do something to stop AI from trying to run humanity -- or at least seriously distract it. A YouTuber with a penchant for hacking video games may have found one answer.
Seth Bling loves to find new ways to tinker with classic games, and this time, he set a curious AI program loose on the Donut Plains 1 level of the SNES game Super Mario World to see if it could not only teach itself how to play the game but also could find the most efficient route through the level.
Naturally, the AI program Bling dubbed "MarI/0" picked up on the game, but it took quite a bit of trial and error, as he explains in the AI's demo. The program eventually figured out that just avoiding all the power-ups and enemies by spin-jumping through the entire level was the most efficient means of finishing it. That's because AI doesn't have friends that it needs to impress with its supreme Mario controlling skills.
Bling's breakthrough in self-playing Super Mario technology isn't by any means a first. Earlier this year, a team of researchers at the University of Tubingen in Germany created a form of AI that learned how to respond to vocal commands and emotional expressions through the Game Boy Advance game Super Mario Advance. There's also a competition centered around creating AI that can play various Mario games without any human input.
All of these experiments and projects are probably just humanity's way of getting AI hooked on video games so it never gets around to completing its plans for world domination. Who's your God now, AI?