IBM's Watson does some culinary computing for its first cookbook
These days, it seems like every celebrity comes out with a cookbook at some point, and IBM's Watson supercomputer is no exception. The newly released Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson includes 65 recipes, developed with the help of what's billed as "the world’s first cognitive cooking system", is the result of a three-year collaboration between IBM Research and chefs at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE).
Launched four years ago, Watson can handle extremely large amounts of data as an aid to decision making in medicine, customer service, finance, and other fields. Chef Watson was conceived as a way to illustrate not only what Watson can do, but how it can interact with everyday life. Starting out as a food truck, it went on to become an app, and on Tuesday it became a published "author."
IBM says that Cognitive Cooking is not only a compendium of recipes, but also discusses the evolution of Chef Watson. The dishes were produced by Watson's ability to extract facts from millions of pages of literature and draw relationships between them. This allows it to produce a database of recipes, dish types, cooking styles, human psychology, and taste preferences, along with feedback and oversight from chefs and diners, and from that, create new dishes.
Central to this is the ability of the system to deal with food pairings. This is an offshoot of the chemistry of taste as discovered by molecular gastronomy. Instead of dealing with dishes at an ingredient level, Watson looks at the actual chemicals that control taste and how one food pairs with another. For example, a main taste chemical of tomatoes is shared with strawberries, so it's entirely possible to make bruschetta with strawberries. By analyzing these pairings, Chef Watson came up with things like plum pancetta cider. Other recipes include Spanish Almond Crescent, Creole Shrimp-Lamb Dumplings, Italian-Pumpkin Cheesecake, and Hoof-and-Honey Ale.
According to IBM, what works with food also works with other things, like creating new pharmaceuticals and cancer-fighting proteins.
Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson retails for US$30.
The video below discusses Chef Watson.