Cooking by supercomputer
March 6, 2015 3:54 AM   Subscribe

The robot cookbook: can a supercomputer write recipes? Watson, IBM’s supercomputer, has (with help from the Institute of Culinary Education) written what IBM's Florian Pinel calls "the first specimen of a new generation of smarter cookbooks". Do the unusual ingredient combinations work, or is plum pancetta cider really as disgusting as it sounds? IBM sent a food truck to SXSW to (ahem) road-test the recipes. Reports are, the Bengali butternut BBQ sauce is delicious. Of course, there's a TED talk.
posted by Lexica (25 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I really don't want to poach my food in Fluorinert, no matter how hot that Cray supercomputer gets. I'm sorry for being such a picky eater.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:00 AM on March 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

Oh, I'm sure this is all fun and games, robot chefs with their "unusual ingredients", while they're still calling it "cooking for humans".
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:02 AM on March 6, 2015 [9 favorites]

I'm suppose the Pesto Bruschetta is half-clarified.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:07 AM on March 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Day 4: Belgian Bacon Pudding

Most of the recipes described in the "to SXSW" link I would have liked to try. This seems pretty fun and if you strip away the typically idiotic reporting style, it should be pretty inarguable that this is a tool that could inspire a lot of cool things, when it's used by people who know what they're doing.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:39 AM on March 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Obligatory "How To Serve Man" joke here.
posted by briank at 4:52 AM on March 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'll know Watson's gotten around to reading MetaFilter when it comes up with Curated Carrots in a Nuanced Privilege Sauce
posted by Wolfdog at 4:55 AM on March 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Obligatory "How To Serve Man" joke here.

overthinking a plate of fava beans and a nice chianti?
posted by at 5:02 AM on March 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

This seems a pretty disappointing project: on the one hand it embodies a minimal understanding of cooking, and on the other it seems to do little more than churn out permutations, which is a feeble thing for an advanced computer to be doing at this time of day.

It could have been so much more interesting.
posted by Segundus at 5:08 AM on March 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

A paper from IBM's TJ Watson Research Center on recipe generation: New Developments in Culinary Computational Creativity.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 5:15 AM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

We just saw how Indian food is so good because of combinations of ingredients with differing flavor profiles, so this makes sense to me. The food truck should have been self-driving, though.
posted by TedW at 5:32 AM on March 6, 2015

I bet Watson is a better cook than Ken Jennings.
posted by Poldo at 5:54 AM on March 6, 2015

I've seen this episode of Futurama.
posted by Foosnark at 6:03 AM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I feel like an analogy might be palindromes. It's easy to write a program that generates all the anagrams of particular words. It's harder to ask a computer to generate a palindrome based on a set of inputs. And it's currently impossible to ask it: generate one really good palindrome.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:28 AM on March 6, 2015

when the computerists get a hold of this scientific breakthrough, it will put cooks out of a job.

people will have no options but to cook bad food for themselves, or to order the most computationally delicious food from every single fast food joint. Seriously, even taco bell will have 3 Michelin stars. Gif of gordon ramsy looping on screen, one robot eye always watching.

What happens when we are constantly inundated with pleasure? non-stop best food, as long as you don't make it yourself? will food even have any meaning if robot soylent tastes better than the best thing you could ever cook yourself?
posted by rebent at 7:12 AM on March 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is all part of the robots' master plan:

1. Make better food than humans.
2. Make humans trust that you make better food than humans.
3. Gain control of entire human food chain.
4. Reflect on how much robot lives would improve if humans didn't exist.
5. Alter programming to give cyanide a high flavor score.
6. Distribute delicious cyanide-and-apricot tacos to humans everywhere.
7. Huge robot beach party.
posted by tempestuoso at 7:47 AM on March 6, 2015 [8 favorites]

You know, it is not hard to create a flavor matrixes. Take the flavor books by Karen Page and Andrew Dorenburg, The Flavor Bible, Culinary Artistry, What to Drink with What to Eat and the Vegetarian Flavor Bible and you have foundation level information. You start entering a crapton of recipes and work off of weights and ratios and again, you have a solid foundation.
posted by jadepearl at 8:05 AM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

That truck was missing out, I guess "Cognitive Cooking" may have made me wonder, but if I saw "Recipes by Robots" I probably would have flipped on over to check it out.
posted by symbioid at 8:07 AM on March 6, 2015

7. Huge robot beach party.

I'm not convinced all the robots would be on the same side.

Imagine: years after Armageddon, a ragtag group of subsurface humans dares to venture topside, to find Linux robots vs. BSD robots fighting a war whose tactics are barely comprehensible. The Linux bots are more numerous, but more vulnerable; the BSD bots are more hardened, but recover more slowly from injuries because their args to ps are wrong.
posted by kurumi at 9:53 AM on March 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

I just want a computer that will make me the ultimate bowl of ramen.
posted by gucci mane at 12:46 PM on March 6, 2015

Huh. I think this is fascinating, and yet all it's really doing is manipulating slightly more data than e.g. Foodpairing.

And I object to 'coffee, chocolate, and garlic' being a weird combination. Cocoa/espresso-rubbed steak with a pat of garlic butter on top, for example, would raise nary an eyebrow anywhere in North America.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:43 PM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

...would raise nary an eyebrow anywhere in North America.

I obviously can't prove this but I suspect that if you threw a dart at a large map of the United States and suggested cocoa/espresso-rubbed steak with a pat of garlic butter on top to the nearest family, there is about a 96% chance of getting a response level of raised eyebrow or higher.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:07 PM on March 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Well, okay. You're right. That was probably a bunch of foodie privilege (I'm not being sarcastic) showing. That said, I'm sure the Venn diagram of 'no raised eyebrow' and 'likely to hear about or read this' probably has a pretty high intersection.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:19 PM on March 6, 2015

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