Will Meals Of The Future Be Cooked By Computers? Watson The Supercomputer Looks Set To Provide Competition For Chefs

People of the future watch out! IBM’s supercomputer ‘Watson’ is seeking to take over the culinary world and try out his cooking abilities on the people of Earth. Attendees at the annual Texas music festival SXSW will be given the chance to try out some of Watson’s recipes serve via a food van on location. The computer works by searching through a massive database of ingredients and matching them together to create some weird and wonderful food. Florian Pinel, senior software engineer at IBM Watson Group, commented:

“We made an Italian grilled lobster that paired saffron, tomato, pumpkin, mint, olives, orange and bacon – something that we would never have thought of putting all together. The Baltic apple pie… with apple, blueberries, apricots, ginger, pork, garlic and onion is another recipe that you won’t find at any bakery I know of.”

Recipe Databases

The first database will contain existing recipes, whereas the second database provides more detailed date on the flavour compounds of thousands of different ingredients. Watson will then use this information combined with psychological data about human tastes in order to come up with his original food ideas. The only thing Watson will not be doing is cooking up his own creations because it has no hands … at the moment! Instead the food it creates at SXSW will be cooked by a specially picked group of chefs from the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE). IBM is keen to reassure people though that this is not the start of a terminator style takeover, rather, they are interested in how robots and humans can work side by side and together. Mr Pinel added:

“An important aspect of this research is pairing human creativity with machine creativity to create the best possible outcomes and results. We want chefs to see our system as a useful assistant that magnifies and accelerates their abilities, and to do things they never could have done before. When dealing with scientific creativity, today’s big data lets computers assess the products that they create in terms of novelty and quality. The fact that the computers can both design and evaluate artefacts means to me that they’re being creative.”

Potential Benefits of Computer Recipes

IBM hopes that there will be long term nutritional benefits to using computers for creating food recipes too. They believe that there is an opportunity to help use the knowledge generated by Watson to influence the social challenges of obesity, malnutrition and hunger.

One thing is for certain though, it doesn’t matter how smart a computer actually is. If they don’t have access to decent ingredients in the first place they are never going to make a good meal – even when they do get hands! Fortunately, we humans don’t have it quite so hard and a quick trip to our local food shop will provide us with a wealth of delicious food products waiting to be used properly. Enjoy tasty, nutritional and affordable meals with ingredients bought from your local food produce suppliers.

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