Testing the creative capabilities of computers
First, Jeopardy! champions Ken Jennings and Ben Rutter got served by Watson, the IBM supercomputer. Now, Watson is serving up dishes from a food truck as part of a new partnership with the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, NPR reports.
The supercomputer made its debut as a chef at a Las Vegas tech conference last week, and so far has produced gourmet, fusion fare like a Swiss-Thai asparagus quiche, an Austrian chocolate burrito, and a pork belly moussaka.
Named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, the supercomputer comes up with creative meals based on a series of algorithms, according to the company’s website:
“The system begins by capturing and analyzing tens of thousands of existing recipes to understand ingredient pairings and dish composition, and which it rearranges and redesigns into new recipes. It then cross references these with data on the flavor compounds found in ingredients, and the psychology of people’s likes and dislikes…to model how the human palate might respond to different combinations of flavors.”
IBM hopes Watson will become a lucrative revenue stream, TIME recently reported, after the company’s sales fell for seven straight quarters and its stock price dropped — arguably due to changes within the technology industry and the larger shift from PCs and printers toward software and services. “Cloud computing” is now a formidable competitor, and IBM executives have “projected” that Watson, which operates in the cloud, will generate $1 billion in revenue by 2018, the Wall Street Journal reports.
However, three years after its Jeopardy! debut, the supercomputer has only produced $100 million, according to the newspaper. So at the beginning of 2014, “IBM announced that it will invest more than $1 billion into the Watson Group, including $100 million for venture investments to support start-ups and businesses that are building a new class of applications powered by Watson,” TIME reported.
The food truck will be at SXSW, the music and tech festival in Austin, Texas, from March 7 to 11.