Next Step in Artificial Intelligence: Mastering Mario Bros.

The quest for artificial intelligence continues with a new competition to design computer programs that can play the classic NES Super Mario Bros. game. Organized by Julian Togelius at the IT University of Copenhagen, the Mario AI Competition will pit various Mario-playing programs against each other.Some of the entrants will use established mathematical techniques to learn regularities and relationships in the game (running into a Koopa Trooper is bad, e.g.). Other entrants will be the product of genetic algorithms: programs that have "evolved" to play the game well. From New Scientist:Evolving a better Mario would typically involve creating a population of programs each able to play the game, but in ways that differ slightly from each other. Software would pit them all against the game and combine elements of the most successful to "father" a new generation of Marios, each with some random mutations of their own included.So the competition will be a sort of showdown between different strategies for creating game-playing robots. And before we know it, we'll have robots that can waste the whole day playing World of Warcraft, powered by Chee-tos and Red Bull.