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Watch a self-aware Mario play Super Mario

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

In one more step to mankind's eventual enslavement by robots and AIs, programmers have written code that, when running alongside a version of Super Mario Bros., makes Mario self-aware.

Correction: You may have noticed we've had some trouble identifying which version of Super Mario Bros. this is. The researchers say it is something called "Infinite Mario Bros.," which actually is a Java-language game programmed by Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson. We've revised the headline simply to say "Super Mario," as everyone understands both the character and the iconic platforming game series he stars in.

German researchers have developed an AI that allows Mario to experience emotions and act autonomously in response to them. The AI also understands voice instructions and questions.

It's sophisticated enough that Mario can be told if he jumps on a goomba, it will die. He remembers that information. This five-minute video gives a detailed explanation of how, but the gist of it is Mario autonomously explores the world of Super Mario and retains knowledge about it by experience or by being told.

As for emotions, Mario will act in response to them. A "hungry" feeling will send Mario in search of coins. He also examines his surroundings, and can remember safe jumping paths to continue moving through the level.

The Mario AI Project is the work of the Cognitive Modeling Group at the University of Tubingen of Germany. Is it just me, or does that voice sound like the WOPR, which almost caused nuclear annihilation in 1983's WarGames?