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What If Super Mario Had A Conscience? A.I. Experts Gave Him A Mind Of His Own

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Video game characters are ours to control, but what if they were sentient? Would Mario be so quick to stomp on all those turtles?

Researchers at Germany’s University of Tübingen implanted Mario with artificial intelligence to get at those questions — and to peer into the legendary video game hero’s pixelated soul.

Specifically, Mario got the power of language and the ability to learn, with an active knowledge base and “internal emotive states” including fear, curiosity, hunger and happiness. For instance, A.I. Mario will explore his surroundings when he’s curious, and internalizes the information that jumping on Goombas will make them die, which shapes his future actions.

Using the Super Mario World engine, the researchers demonstrate Mario’s mental upgrade and language skills. They stress that, when Mario answers questions, “None of the things he says are scripted.” Watch it below:

 

The whole thing has a pretty dystopian, Frankenstein’s monster feel; Mario doesn’t seem happy, and his trademark goofy voice is now a monotone computer vocalization. Next order of business: Get Mario to debate the morality of using the Warp Zone in World 1-2.

 

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