An AI found a bug in the Atari game Q*bert and exploited it to quickly score a million points. It used self-destruction as a winning strategy too

If you can’t win, kill yourself or cheat. That’s the strategy invented by an artificial intelligence trained to play old Atari video games.

Patryk Chrabaszcz of the University of Freiburg, Germany and his colleagues created an AI to play eight Atari games, including the arcade classic Q*bert, in which players must navigate a strange orange character around a pyramid and dodge enemies. Rather than mastering the game like a human gamer might, their algorithm came up with two particularly unusual ways to play.

In the first, the AI gives up trying to …

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