As students of pop culture in the year 2015, we know that one thing is certain: when the end of the world happens, it will probably be because of robots or zombies.
Personally, I'm putting my money on robots. It's much easier to believe that artificial intelligence will one day become completely sentient and rule us all while we're busy watching [American Idol](series:251683).
What I did NOT bet on, however, is that the new Skynet would be not, well, Skynet, but Super Mario.
Yeah, you read that right. According to IGN, German researchers at the University of Tübingen have created a version of Super Mario that is able to learn, showing evidence of independent thought and the ability to exhibit self-control. The project has been entered in the People's Choice Award for AI Video Competition, and the team has created this demo video to showcase Super Mario's abilities so far. It's still a work in progress, so the video is very rough, but there's enough evidence of Mario actively learning and becoming aware of his surroundings to make me wonder where the "we're all going to die" tag was when I was uploading this video.
The end goal of the project is to create a Super Mario that is capable of adapting to his environment and become self-sufficient enough to "make choices based on his curiosity, hunger, happiness and fear," says IGN.
Explains the video narrator
Mario will collect coins if he is hungry, whereas when he is curious, he will explore his environment and autonomously gather knowledge about items he does not know much about yet.
So you're telling me Super Mario has been purposely programmed to exhibit more curiosity and motivation for self-teaching than most actual human beings?
I've simplified things a bit, so if you want to read a more detailed breakdown of the science behind the breakthrough, read this. I'll just be over here, pledging my loyalty and allegiance to Ultron before he becomes a real thing.