Super Mario Bros. competition evolutionize gaming AI
Computers playing chess is lame. Computers playing Super Mario Bros. is awesome. Julian Togelius and colleague Sergey Karakovskiy at the IT University in Denmark as created a contest that challenges combatants to create software thatbecomes better at playing Super Mario through literally evolving while playing. 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.
Many rounds of this automated process can create programs well adapted to a particular task, just like a species evolving to better fit and exploit its environment.
As for why Super Mario (well, a Java-based recreation of the game) was chosen, Togelius says:
“As far as I’m concerned, Mario is the computer game,” he explains, “both as a gamer and as a good machine-learning challenge that requires a broad set of skills.”