Not that exciting...
This sounds like a variation on the standard AI training technique: start off with a set of random choices, pick the ones with the best results, mutate things a little and repeat until you reach a given level of performance.
It's infinite monkeys poking away at an infinite number of keyboards - except that since we don't have an infinite supply of monkeys (no matter how it seems when I glance at newspaper forum posts), we take a finite set of monkeys and nudge them in the direction we want them to go.
It wasn't new when I learned about it at university *ahem* decades ago, and it's not new now. The only real difference is that we can throw more monkeys at the problem than we used to be able to.
Still, it's a good reminder that "life"[*] will always find a way to game the system - from memory, one of the best examples of this type of experiment involved building an oscillator with the fewest parts possible - however, instead of building a timing circuit, the "AI" built a radio receiver and piggybacked onto the signal from a nearby computer...
Though by the same token, this also highlights the issue with "evolutionary" approaches like this; if the the computer was further away or switched off, the circuit would have failed. Similarly for this experiment - a different ROM version or a different map would likely cause this "hack" to fail.
It's not AI, it's mechanical single-action optimisation, and as such is highly susceptible to Darwinism if conditions change.
[*] Life, scammers, investment algorithms; if there's a way to get an advantage over your competitors, then sooner or later it'll be used!