3. McCormick using AI to develop new spices
For years, McCormick has relied on its own culinary experts to come up with new and creative ways to blend its spices. Now, Axios' Shannon Vavra reports, it is looking to artificial intelligence to create new combinations.
What's happening: McCormick, the world’s largest spice company, has begun working with IBM Research to create new spices that humans might not consider. Among its latest concoctions — the cumin pizza, says Richard Goodwin, principal research scientist at IBM.
Why it matters: AI is starting to change our palates and not just when it comes to food. As we've previously reported, AI is introducing novelty and creativity into food, in addition to fashion, art, cocktails, and dance.
- "The computer doesn’t have some of the same biases we have," Goodwin tells Axios.
How it works: The system, which is still in the testing phase, pulls from decades’ worth of data on spices to identify a base formula for a flavor category (such as a BBQ sauce).
- Then it incorporates new and sometimes surprising ingredients, plus sales and trend forecasts to make sure the new flavors will likely perform well.
- The algorithm can cut spice development time down by two-thirds, CNN reports.
- The IBM system can examine hundreds of thousands of formulations that have been tried in the past, involving some 5,000 ingredients. "A person just can’t deal with that," Goodwin says.
At the end, humans make the decision. A consumer taste-test follows the AI process. "There's always going to be a need for humans to taste," Bob Doyle, VP of the Robotics Industries Association, tells Axios.