I knew I had seen another automated video game thing before. Tom Murphy published work a couple of years ago on creating a computer program that learns how to play classic Nintendo games.
It's a different approach than the project from earlier this week. The program is generalized, so it can be applied to games besides Mario Bros., and the computer can eventually beat more than one level. Plus, the program finds and takes advantage of glitches in games.
Watch Murphy's video explanation below, and geek out about Lexicographic Orderings. Oh my.
Here's the paper (pdf) if you want more details. The best part is the title: "The First Level of Super Mario Bros. is Easy with Lexicographic Orderings and Time Travel...after that it gets a little tricky."