Everyone loves Nintendo’s rotund red plumber, but Mario is really defined by what we do with him, whether that’s pelting wildlife with fireballs or plunging into a bottomless pit. Now, however, researchers are attempting to make him self-aware.
Created by the University of Tubingen, the idea behind this particular Mario project is to make a Mario who can interact with his world autonomously and speak with researchers. Building off speech recognition software, the team has taught Mario how to respond to questions and concepts. And, once the shackles come loose, as Mario’s “drives” change, he’ll do different things, like grab coins when he’s hungry or explore his environment and test out items when he’s curious.
This actually is pretty neat just from a gaming perspective, as it could be used to create AI that’s a little more dynamic than just running at you really fast and shooting. Of course, this does force you to wonder how Mario will take being trapped in a prison where he eats nothing but coins and has to jump on the same enemies over and over again. Or how he’ll react when he dies over and over and over again in Tubular. Maybe let’s not teach Mario the concept of “launch codes.”