Latest News

  • New York Times
  • How Super Mario and Magic: The Gathering are Low-key Supercomputers

Source: New York Times
Rate: 5 5

See the news How Super Mario and Magic: The Gathering are Low-key Supercomputers from Source New York Times on 20/05/2019 has been updated to day with the theme on feedixo.

How Super Mario and Magic: The Gathering are Low-key Supercomputers

In 1999’s The Matrix, life as we know it is actually a virtual reality abstraction; a collection of well-shaped zeroes and ones which add up to an utterly convincing simulation of the real world. Knowing how to manipulate this code — as Morpheus, Trinity, Neo and the rest of the movie’s patent leather-wearing good guys are able — allows them to do anything they want: from throwing crazy kung fu moves to stopping bullets in flight to bending spoons with their mind or leaping tall buildings in a single bound. In short, it lets them repurpose the Matrix’s own computation for almost any application they can dream up.Several years ago, a then-twenty-something computer scientist named Seth Hendrickson carried out an astonishing (and not entirely dissimilar) demonstration using Nintendo’s classic 1990 side-scrolling platformer, Super Mario World. Like a lot of the geekier members of the Super Mario community, Hendrickson — who is known as “SethBling” on his popular YouTube channel — was fascinated by the possibility of pushing the game far beyond the limits imagined by its creators.Hendrickson injected Flappy Bird’s 331 bytes of code into Super Mario World‘s unused RAM, and then instructed the processor to execute it.One of the ways of doing this was to glitch his Super Nintendo console into reading instructions from the system’s RAM instead of the original game cartridge. Since RAM is used to track all parts of the game state, expertly manipulating it makes it possible to set up entirely new game states.Rather than doing this through traditional, text-based coding, this can achieved by playing the game itself; using gameplay elements such as Mario laying down shells to make the processor read certain instructions from a section of RAM designed to keep track of the placement of these shells. Because these coordinates are stored as a series of bytes, this allows the hacker (Hendrickson in this case) to control what the game’s processor does for a few clock cycles. It lets him seize the game’s code to do whatever he wants.Confused? Quite possibly — but take Hendrickson’s word that it works. After seeing several limited examples of this “arbitrary code execution” hack in action, Hendrickson had an idea. “The engineer in me knew that if you could trick the processor into running a little bit of code, then you could trick it into running a lot of code,” he told Digital Trends.Hendrickson teamed up with another member of the community, known as “p4plus2.” Together they showed that it is possible to use this technique to write an entirely new game inside the Super Mario architecture that was designed for, well, Super Mario.They chose Flappy Bird, the insanely addictive mobile game which enjoyed a brief surge of notoriety in 2014. “[P4plus2] wrote all of the code that ended up going into the Flappy Bird program, and I did most of the work fleshing out the details of the procedure, and practicing to actually be able to execute it,” Hendrickson explained.“Welcome to the world of the accidentally Turing complete.”Repeating a series of actions within the game, like a dancer creating a story through movement, he injected Flappy Bird’s 331 bytes of code into Super Mario World‘s unused RAM, and then instructed the processor to execute these bytes as processor instructions. When, after “meticulous planning” and “lots of simulations,” he had finished this, he live-streamed the entire demonstration to 12,000 amazed viewers on Twitch. It remains the largest number of concurrent viewers Hendrickson has ever had.Achieving Turing completeness“Welcome to the desert of the real,” says Morpheus in The Matrix after he has stripped away the simulated reality of the virtual world, and shown him the manipulation that lies beneath. In the case of Hendrickson, the phrase might be this: “Welcome to the world of the accidentally Turing complete.”Alan M Turing (right) is considered the father of modern computing and artificial intelligence. Turing famously helped crack the Enigma code, a complex cypher machine used by the German’s to encrypt messages during World War II.Achieving Turing completeness sounds like a state of Zen for computer programmers. In fact, it refers to a feature of a computational system — a “universal Turing machine” — that’s able to compute anything, including another computer in some form. Hypothesized in 1936 by Alan Turing, the father of modern computer science, his concept of a Turing machine laid out what we today think of as a general-purpose computer.A Turing machine must be capable of performing computation by changing states, reading and writing to some form of “tape,” moving said “tape head” left or right, and outputting a final answer in the form of either “accept” or “reject.” Every known algorithm can be converted into a Turing machine and, as a result, can be implemented in any Turing complete system.“In grade school, I made games in PowerPoint for fun.”An accidentally Turing complete system is a system which can do all of this without ever meaning to. An accidentally Turing complete system might be designed for, say, guiding a small Italian plumber through game levels to rescue a princess, but it turns out that it can also be made to calculate the digits of pi, solving sudoku puzzles, run Microsoft Windows, or most everything else. It’s the equivalent of an ordinary citizen, living life as an eventful office drone, who suddenly discovers that he or she is more than they think. They’re Neo. They’re the One.“I like surprisingly [Turing complete] demonstrations because they are often a display of considerable ingenuity,” said Gwern Branwen, who maintains a fairly comprehensive archive of accidentally Turing complete demonstrations online. “It matters,” he continued, “because, if one is clever, it provides an escape hatch from a system which is...

The news of the agency (New York Times) and site feedixo any responsibility in publishing it.

See the news How Super Mario and Magic: The Gathering are Low-key Supercomputers from Source New York Times on 20/05/2019 has been updated to day with the theme on feedixo.