Despite the fact that it’s a few decades old, Super Mario World on the SNES is still one of the greatest platformers ever created. But now the robots are better than us at actually playing it.
Dubbed MarI/O, the plumber-centric artificial intelligence is basically programmed to “learn” in a way that is similar to how the human brain functions. The program was created by developer (and Super Mario World speedrunner) Seth Bling, and essentially has to figure out the mechanics and features of the game (i.e. don’t get hit by a bad guy, pick up the mushrooms, etc.) on its own. It obviously takes MarI/O some trial and error, but after a while the program can blast through those levels just as fast as we could in grade school.
Of course, MarI/O misses out on a lot of the finesse involved with playing a videogame. He isn’t going for extra points, coins or kills — and is instead just focused on making it to the end of the level in one piece. Heck, the program actually skips a lot of the bad guys, which can admittedly be a more efficient way to reach the finish line.
If nothing else, MarI/O is a fascinating peek into the concept of learning AI, filtered through the lens of something we all know and understand. It’s also nice to know Skynet might enjoying destroying us in a game of Halo before actually destroying us.
Check out MarI/O in action below and let us know what you think: