As if competition from the giant online slushpile wasn’t enough, seriously writerly folk now have an even more alarming threat: computer-generated works. And if you’re a cookery writer, this is now a genuine and serious prospect. Because IBM’s artificial intelligence/cognitive computing system IBM Skynet … oops, I mean IBM Watson … has now been set to work on human gastronomy, in partnership with the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), and has whipped up “a new book…introduced on April 14, 2015 – Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson. It features more than 65 original recipes exploding with irresistible new flavors developed by Watson and brought to life by ICE chefs.”
According to IBM, “Chef Watson is able to learn recipes, dish types, and ingredients, understand human taste preferences, and then rearrange and redesign the data to generate unique combinations of savory ingredient pairings. Given the numerous different combinations of possible ingredients in the world, it’s impossible for a single person to imagine and reason about them all … Through the Chef Watson collaboration, ICE chefs provided input and feedback on the system’s ingredient choices, infused the cooking with their own interpretations, and together delivered creative recipes.”
Since IBM Watson is already active in the health field, less life-or-death decisions like what ingredients to put into a recipe should be … well, a piece of cake in comparison. Actual creations include the Spanish Almond Crescent, Indian Tumeric Paella, Caymankin Plantain Dessert, and Swiss-Thai Asparagus Quiche, which already sound surprisingly acceptable and appetizing.
I can foresee many more applications for IBM Watson to get to work on in partnership with Big Media. For instance, with genre fiction tropes so formulaic and much genre product in thrillers/crime and romance so uninspired, how about Genre Writer Watson? Can the first James Patterson collaboration with IBM Watson be far off? Or, how about Celebrity Ghostwriter Watson, so no human mind ever has to parse the burblings of a Zoella or one man and his dog? And look at the big picture: The longer we keep these machines busy churning our asinine moronic trash, the less time they’ll have for plotting to take over the world …