Anybody can make Mario, Nintendoís world-famous little plumber, race through the Mushroom Kingdom, chasing coins. But what if Mario could do it on his own?
          Thatís the goal of the Mario A.I. Project: to develop an artificially intelligent Mario agent that becomes aware of himself and his environment, making decisions about what to do based on spoken instructions.
          Built by members of the Cognitive Modeling Group at Germanyís University of Tubingen, the Mario A.I. Project has released a video demonstrating and explaining the initiative. And while the teamís progress seems to be slow, itís pretty cool to think of this most-famous of game characters having a will of his own.
          Using Carnegie-Mellonís Sphinx speech-recognition toolkit, the videoís narrator explains, Mario can understand a large number of English sentences and commands. Based on a huge logic and grammar tree the team built, he can answer things about what he knows based on what heís been told and can take actions based on what heís learned.
          He can even make decisions based on his emotions or his needs. For example, if Marioís hungry, heíll chase coins. If heís just feeling curious, heíll explore the Mushroom Kingdom, autonomously gathering knowledge about items he doesnít know much about yet.