IBM’s Watson Brings Cognitive Computing To Cooking

February 5, 2015 Ben Myers

IBM’s cognitive computing platform, Watson, has come a long way from kicking Ken Jenning’s butt on Jeopardy. In fact the computing power behind Watson is taking up a new hobby: cooking.

The genius behind Watson is its ability to think, like a human, in four stages:

  1. Observe.
  2. Interpret based on past experience.
  3. Evaluate hypotheses.
  4. Decide.

So, like a well-travelled chef, it can think of delicious food combinations that might escape a person who has only lived in one part of the world. Unlike any human, however, Watson can analyze enormous volumes of data from many sources to arrive at its conclusions.

IBM describes Watson’s talent as, “Finding answers and insights locked away in volumes of data.” So it can come up with uncommon combinations that should work well, like a Peruvian potato poutine or an Indonesian chili con carne.

Unlike the common computer, which understands basic instructions based on structured data, Watson can understand unstructured data – 80% of the data that exists today.

With Chef Watson, IBM is demonstrating that cognitive systems can also understand and reason about the big data behind cuisine – recipes, chemistry and food pairing theories – to help people drive new creations and combinations of ingredients. IBM is applying its learnings about cognitive cooking to other domains where innovation, discovery and design are necessary, serving up Watson as the ultimate assistant to professionals in industries including retail, healthcare and financial services.

To create new and unique poutine recipes, Watson has analyzed billions of ingredient combinations and regional flavour preferences to create five unique poutine recipes for each city. From February to early March, residents of Toronto [FB event page] and Montreal [FB event page] are invited to try the poutine recipes and vote online for their favourite. Canadians outside of those cities are also welcome to test the recipes and cast votes for their favourite Watson creation. The most popular recipe for each city will be revealed in early March.

IBM’s Warren Tomlin will present the Supporting Keynote at Dx3 2015, March 11 – 12 in Toronto.








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