IBM has teamed up with professional chefs to publish a cookbook with a twist: all the recipes were developed by the company’s Watson computer.
IBM’s Watson – an advanced information processing system named after IBM’s first CEO and industrialist Thomas J. Watson – specifically to answer questions on the quiz show Jeopardy.
The system would go on to do just that in 2011, out-witting human opponents on the show and going on to win the $1 million prize.
According to IBM, the system is a “cognitive technology” that processes information more like a human than a computer, by understanding natural language, generating hypotheses based on evidence, and “learning as it goes”.
“Watson ‘gets smarter’ in three ways: by being taught by its users, by learning from prior interactions, and by being presented with new information. This means organizations can more fully understand and use the data that surrounds them, and use that data to make better decisions,” IBM said.
In the latest spin with the system, the IBM looked to turn Watson information processing into something more – by letting it generate ideas, too.
IBM teamed up with the Insititute of Culinary Education (ICE) to co-create new recipes using Watson’s processing capabilities.
The system was fed data about thousands of known recipes, various food combinations, chemical properties, nutritional values and also cultural preferences.
From there it would output food combinations based on various given conditions (whether it is to produce an entree, dessert, vegan dish, etc), which can then be processed further by a human hand.
Working with ICE, IBM managed to co-create 65 unique professional recipes, which have since been published as a cookbook.
The first recipe produced by the system was a Spanish Almond Crescent pastry.
According to the book’s authors, while Watson had thousands of datapoints at its disposal, it still had to learn about food pairings, taste and smell components and a “suprise factor” to food.
“To create bold new recipes, Watson had to be programmed to produce combinations not yet tasted. This relentless hunt for novelty would fuel its creativity,” they said.
Other recipes co-created by “Chef Watson” include a couple of quiches (including an east-Asian inspired mix), and Indian Paella and Turkish Bruschetta.
Some more outlandish combinations include a Plum Pancetta Cider cocktail.
All images and recipes from Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson: Recipes for Innovation from IBM & the Institute of Culinary Education.