Silicon chef: IBM introduces computer-designed food

10 : 03 : 2014 IBM : Institute Of Culinary Education : SXSWi

Austin, Texas – IBM has teamed up with New York’s Institute of Culinary Education to showcase food designed with the help of computers at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi).

IBM x New York’s Institute of Culinary Education at SxSWi IBM x New York’s Institute of Culinary Education at SxSWi
IBM x New York’s Institute of Culinary Education at SxSWi IBM x New York’s Institute of Culinary Education at SxSWi
IBM x New York’s Institute of Culinary Education at SxSWi IBM x New York’s Institute of Culinary Education at SxSWi

The company is doling out the dishes at one of Austin’s many food trucks. Guests use hashtags to vote on which dishes will be featured each day.

Recipes were created with the help of Watson, IBM’s machine for understanding natural language made famous on the tv show Jeopardy. For this project, Watson deciphered existing recipes to understand which flavours and techniques are tastiest. It then combined ingredients into novel combinations and dishes.

‘We’re in this cognitive era with computers that feast on large amounts of data, interact with natural language conversationally and all that kind of stuff,’ says Steve Abrams, a director at IBM’s Watson group. ‘The next step of cognitive computing is this area of combinational creativity.’

The process makes sense once guests can experience the dishes, says Abrams. ‘They can taste the food and see that these aren’t some weird science fiction ingredients, they’re interesting and novel pairings.’

For more on the convergence of technology and creativity, attend LS:N Global’s forthcoming Trend Briefing.

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