Now let me be clear: this video is a harbinger for the end of days. It is the culmination of so many of our fears: artificial intelligence left to its own devices, high stakes video gaming (listen: all gaming is high stakes if you’re like me), and the Big Brother-y camera watching it all go down. Like feasting your eyes upon the oncoming trainwreck it is (can you tell I’m terrified of AIs?), I feel like I’m staring down the barrel of a very angry volcano from my bedroom window in Pompeii. Because surely robots that are able to learn are what will undo us all as a human race.
But if you’re all ‘eh, whatever!’ about it — why not watch this bot that learned how to play Super Mario World for your visual enjoyment! The geniuses over at Kotaku got the idea to hook up Sethbling’s AI and some gameplay capture tech to create a look into what happens when artificial intelligence “learns” (via neural evolution) how to accomplish something.
“Neural evolution” is a fancy term for something you are doing as you read this — learning to associate outcomes with actions. By mimicking the way neurons talk to each other in the human brain, learning AIs like this one can try a vast number of possible solutions, find one that works a bit better than the last, and improve upon that. That’s the “evolution” part (and why you see “species,” “generation,” and “genome”). The AI remembers the actions that result in more progress, then starts again from there with random actions. The end result is a naturally selected solution!
But what do you think of the video? Let us know in the comments below.