Aatish Bathia in Wired [h/t: Jennifer Ouellette]:
Computers are constantly getting smarter. But can they ever be creative? A team of IBM researchers believes so. They’ve built a program that uses math, chemistry, and vast quantities of data to churn out new and unusual recipes.
To build their algorithm, the researchers modeled the steps that we might go through to develop creative ideas. First, you need to understand the problem that you’re trying to solve. Then, build expertise by learning everything you can about the problem. With this knowledge under your belt, generate a bunch of new ideas, and maybe even combine different types of ideas. Then pick the most creative ideas from the lot. Finally, implement your idea. While computers have executed many of these steps before, the key insight of the IBM group was to find a way to quantitatively gauge the creativity of a recipe, and to put all the different pieces together.
“I have dishes from the system all the time”, says Lav Varshney, who led IBM’s team to develop this novel recipe generation engine. “Some of the recipes that we created ourselves like the Kenyan Brussels sprout gratin, the Caymanian plantain dessert, and the Swiss-Thai asparagus quiche are very good. Others that we did jointly with our partners, the Institute of Culinary Education, like the Spanish almond crescent and the Ecuadorian strawberry dessert are world-class.”