Recipe-Inventing Computer in Development

IBM working on computer than can develop healthy, delicious flavor combinations
IBM's Watson
Wikimedia Commons/Clockready

IBM's Watson


The folks over at IBM have long been known for their ability to create computers that do some amazing things. There was the one that competed on Jeopardy!, for example (Watson, left), and the one that could play (and win) chess. But the newest computer they’re working on just might be the most interesting one of all.

According to NPR, computer scientists at the company are hard at work on a computer that sorts through millions of ingredient combinations to create recipes that are not only delicious, but healthy.

The scientists began with an idea called the flavor pairing hypothesis, which states that two ingredients that share a lot of flavor compounds will go together the best. From there, they plugged in a recipe database, and let the computer go to work. It sorted through them, mixed and matched, and finally came up with brand new flavor combinations that the average human would never think goes together: bell peppers and black tea, blue cheese and dark chocolate, black currants and turmeric.

The computer devised a recipe that was a combination of Spanish paella and Indian curry, combining Indian spices with potatoes, pork, and beef, and topped it with a mango-rum sauce. Most of the scientists agreed that it was pretty tasty.

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Their main goal is to make school lunches more interesting and attractive, and also to combat obesity by finding recipes that substitute fat and calories with flavor. They’re hoping that the computer program be ready for the average consumer within five years.