Microsoft AI Achieves Highest Ms. Pac-Man Score Possible

The video game world recently witnessed Ms. Pac-Man history: For the first time, the game’s maximum score of 999,990 points has been reached. As Business Insider reports, the landmark wasn’t achieved by a competitive gamer but rather an AI algorithm owned by Microsoft.

After the AI start-up Maluuba was acquired by Microsoft in January, one of their first orders of business was developing a system capable of running through the Atari 2600 version of Ms. Pac-Man with more efficiency than any human player. To do this, they set up a program that rewarded the AI for completing different tasks like dodging ghosts and eating fruit. Each accomplishment was assigned a certain value, allowing the algorithm to prioritize problems as they arose. You can learn more about the strategy behind the win in the video below.

The game ended when Ms. Pac-Man racked up 999,990 points, the highest number the game can reach before resetting to zero. According to highscore.com, the previous Atari 2600 Ms. Pac-Man record of 266,330 belonged to a man from Brazil. Though it isn’t the most popular version of the title, researchers chose to play on the Atari 2600 game because the console has become standard for AI projects across the field. The maximum score on the original Ms. Pac-Man game, however, is still up for grabs.

[h/t Business Insider]

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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What Movie Do You Want to Watch? This Website Analyzes Film Critic Reviews to Help You Choose

She's smiling because it only took her two minutes to choose a movie.
She's smiling because it only took her two minutes to choose a movie.
Rowan Jordan/iStock via Getty Images

Much like sommeliers can detect subtle notes of who-knows-what in a sip of wine, film critics are fantastic at identifying influences and drawing parallels between movies. Cinetrii is a handy website that crowdsources all that movie knowledge to help you find your next favorite film.

Basically, you enter the name of a movie you enjoyed in the search bar, and the site will show you a node graph with film recommendations splintering off the search query. Click on one, and you’ll see a quote from a critic (or critics) who referenced the films together. This way, you get a list of recommendations based on different aspects of the movie, and you get to decide for yourself what you’d like to see more of.

If, for example, you were blown away by the special effects in Christopher Nolan’s Inception, you might like Doctor Strange; according to Variety, it boasts “a staggering visual effects innovation, in which the building-bending seen in Christopher Nolan’s Inception is taken to an extreme that would blow even M.C. Escher’s mind.” If what the Chicago Tribune calls an “elegant brain-bender” quality appealed to you more, The Matrix might be a perfect fit.

Films above your search query were released before the movie you typed in, while films below came out after it. The shorter the line, the more closely the films are related, as calculated by the website’s algorithm. And, as Lifehacker points out, that algorithm doesn’t give any special treatment to massive Hollywood blockbusters, so Cinetrii is an especially great way to find hidden gems. Because it shows you the critics' actual quotes, you’re not left to wonder why a certain film landed on the recommendations list—which can’t always be said for “Watch next” lists on streaming services.

You can explore Cinetrii here.

[h/t Lifehacker]