Social Mario teaches AI to learn by imitating each other

As videogames are frequently focused on having a single human player interact with dozens or even hundreds of computer-controlled characters at a time, they tend to be particularly fertile ground for development of artificial intelligence. This is why it should come as no surprise that when the Chair of Cognitive Modeling at Germany’s University of Tübingen decided to create new ways for artificial intelligence to grow and interact, they opted to do so through the lens of Nintendo’s Mario series. Dubbed Social Mario, the project’s concept is simple: Rather than reacting to players or following the scripted commands of a programmer,…


Self-driving cars won’t kill mass transit: they’ll save it

Google is an optimistic company. Presenting itself as Silicon Valley’s version of Disney’s imagineers, the tech giant consistently predicts a future where its innovations drastically change the way we approach everyday activities. To be fair, advancements like its widely-used Android operating system have shown that its predictions aren’t entirely unreasonable. But for every Android or Google Docs, there’s a Google Glass, which in retrospect reads like the mad dream of some 1950s futurist. As much as Google would like us to see it as a high-tech Nostradamus, experts suggest the truth of their predictions may lie somewhere in the middle.…


Formula E will be the first racing championship with driverless cars

One of the charms of NASCAR, SB Nation word wizard Spencer Hall once argued, is that “You are watching for a non-fatal but spectacular crash.” Crashes are fun—and flammable—which is great up until the point you start to care about people. Therein lies the problem with racing. The distribution of interesting events is bipolar: either the humans tethered to machines do something brilliant or are on the verge of death. The baseline competence that would normally fill out the meaty part of a bell curve, while far more impressive than anything you could do, is fundamentally boring. Fret not; Formula…


Error-Prone demonstrates why self-driving cars are more trustworthy than you

If you’re a driver (that is, you drive a car) then you’ve probably been caught up in a phantom traffic jam at least once. These are the types of traffic jam that have no obvious cause. No one has crashed and the police are nowhere in sight. So what happened? Our own human imperfections, that’s what happened. humans are hopeless and should probably not drive cars.  As explained to BBC journalist Andrew Marr in this short investigation into the phantom traffic jam, they’re usually caused by one asshole (I’m being kind) braking more than usual after getting too close to…


Buckle up: Absolute Drift is bending the built environment to a car’s will

Your car is not supposed to go sideways. If it has, you’re in trouble. This is but one of the reasons the expression “going sideways” refers to a breakdown. But in the grand tradition of things being so wrong that they are right, there’s drifting. It’s a motorsport practice that embraces oversteer to such an extent that a car’s front and rear wheels often point in different directions while drifting. When done right, a drifting car slides through corners, slicing up the pavement as if it was soft butter. Absolute Drift, which will be released for Mac, PC, and Linux…