I would have thought that gastronomy was as far as possible from artificial intelligence but I was wrong. For sure, as you walk through a city in the Far East Asia and smell the plentiful of street food you see plenty of
human intelligence and no artificial intelligence, actually you don’t see a need for it! Yet, I can appreciate that when you consider feeding 7 billion people all around the globe the challenges in converting natural resources into food that can be delivered (pre-packaged or to be prepared on site) is a tremendous task. Ensuring its safety and affordability is a must and makes even harder an already complex endeavour. Artificial Intelligence is used in agriculture (minimising pesticide, irrigation, selecting the most fitting seeds), in cattle breeding and livestocks farming, and most definitely in food processing, packaging, logistics. and maintenance of food processing equipment. All this is fine and understandable but saying that you need AI in gastronomy, that is in deciding what and how to cook for tasty and appealing dishes seems strange. Yet, this seems to be the c
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Sony has included “gastronomy” among its first three leading initiatives (along with gaming and photography) of its newly created Artificial Intelligence division.
According to Sony spokesman Shinichi Tobe “The field of food requires a study of molecular structures. By using AI and its analytical capacity we can create new things”. Thinking again, I remember that a number of companies in the food industry I spoke with have significant investment in research for creating new types of food. Ferrero, to name a well known company (you like Nutella, don’t you?) has significant investment in the quest for new products…
Data analytics on what people are buying in food department stores can provide insight on taste in a specific area and the monitoring of new offered food uptake can steer the evolution and innovation in gastronomy.
Sony is interested in creating a team in the kitchen, composed by the cook and a robot, working to create new dishes with the help of AI. This is different from using robots in the kitchen to replace human cooks, as a number of restaurants are starting to experiment.
I wonder what my grandma would say about this invasion of high tech in the kitchen, that used to be her kingdom. At the same time, I have to acknowledge that the way I eat today, the variety of food and the way it is cooked and presented is a far cry from what I used to have 50 years ago. A very low cost tavern of today is serving food that is better tasting and looking than what was served in a top restaurant thirty years ago. Even a plain vanilla dish like “pizza” (I can say it, ’cause I am Italian) used to come in just 4 varieties 50 years ago (Margherita, Marinara, 4 Stagioni -4 seasons- and Prosciutto -ham), whilst now you can get pizza in hundreds of varieties.