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Marketplace Morning Report

Would you eat computer food? Because Watson’s cooking

Kai Ryssdal Jul 1, 2014
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We put a lot of trust in computers. We use them to find dates online, to give us music recommendations, and, of course, the list goes on. But would you trust a computer to make you food? 

Well, not literally. The people at IBM have programmed Watson, the supercomputer that made its debut on Jeopardy, to come up with the most unique and creative food recipes using trillions of ingredients. From Indonesian Rice Chili Con Carne to Austrian Chocolate Burritos, the computer takes a base ingredient, a style of food and some additional suggested flavors and complements to come up with recipes. This process is named “cognitive cooking”. 

Florian Pinel is the head engineer at the Cognitive Cooking project. He says most people cook in their comfort zone:

“They always cook the same things… and the computer doesn’t have that bias. So it comes up with combinations that do work, because we use a number of theories that tell us that they are likely to work together. But that you wouldn’t think of.” 

One of those recipes Watson came up with? Bengali Butternut Barbecue Sauce. Yeah…

The team debuted this recipe for SXSW on the IBM Food Truck. While it may not have gone over well at the Marketplace offices, Pinel says the system is there to help people be more creative when it comes to cooking. 

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