AI may help revolutionize the human diet – or dessert, at least.

What’s new: Google applied AI engineer Dale Markowitz and developer advocate Sara Robinson trained a model to predict whether a recipe is a bread, cake, or cookie. They brightened the recent holiday season by using it to develop novel hybrid recipes.

How it works: The engineers conceived their project to demonstrate Google’s AutoML, a software suite for easy-bake machine learning.

  • They compiled and labeled roughly 600 recipes for breads, cakes, or cookies and limited ingredient lists to 16 essentials, like eggs, flour, and milk.
  • They trained a model to classify recipes as bread, cake, or cookies with high accuracy.
  • For each recipe, AutoML’s explainability feature assigned the ingredients a percentage that described their importance to the classification. Butter, sugar, and yeast were most important overall.
  • The authors adjusted ingredient ratios until they developed a recipe that the model classified as equal parts cookie and cake, and another that was equal parts bread and cookie. They baked and tasted these creations: a cakie (“nasty”) and a breakie (“pretty good”).

Behind the news: Machine learning’s culinary education is coming along, though some of its creations are tastier than others.

  • Sony AI’s Flagship Gastronomy Project recently launched an app to help professional chefs develop new recipes, food pairings, and menus.
  • In 2019, Facebook trained a vision model to recognize different types of food and generate recipes to produce them.
  • In 2016, IBM debuted Chef Watson, an app trained partly on Bon Appétit’s recipe archive, which generates recipes based on ingredients specified by users.
  • Blogger Janelle Shane prompted GPT-2 to generate recipes for dish names that were themselves generated by AI, producing gustatory horrors like Chocolate Chicken Chicken Cake.

Why it matters: Experimenting with new recipes isn’t just fun for home cooks. Commercial test kitchens are on the lookout for novel flavors, textures, and dishes. AI could help chefs invent smorgasbords of culinary delights.

We’re thinking: These AI-powered recipes may seem half-baked, but suddenly we have a craving for Chocolate Chicken Chicken Cake.


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