MIT is using AI to invent new flavor combinations and foods – and it suggested a shrimp, jelly, and sausage pizza

  • If you're stuck in a rut with your food, artificial intelligence developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology may have the answer.
  • Using recipes from across the internet, the researchers taught the AI to come up with new flavor combinations such as shrimp, jelly, and Italian sausage pizza.
  • McCormick & Company, one of the US' largest food companies, announced it was collaborating with IBM to develop an application able to generate new flavors and foods.


If you're tired of four-cheese pizzas or barbecue sauce has become a little samey, have you ever considered trying out a sweet potato, bean, and brie pizza? 

If that doesn't take your fancy, perhaps a pizza topped with shrimp, jelly, and Italian sausage would do the trick?

These pizza toppings are just some of the new flavor combinations Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) artificial intelligence (AI) has come up with — and they're not just for pizza. The "How to Generate (Almost) Anything" project even came up with ginger and meat truffles and new cocktail recipes.

According to the project's website, the scientists and artists involved want to push the limits of human-AI collaboration to create anything the human mind can (or can't) imagine — well, almost anything.

 

 

The group's research isn't just limited to food products either; those involved are looking not only at developing new food experiences but are exploring clothing and perfumes too.

To come up with the new pizza topping options, hundreds of recipes for pizzas from food blogs and recipe websites were entered into the AI, teaching the artificial neural network to "create" pizza combinations it "thought" could work — and this is just the beginning.

McCormick & Company, one of the US' largest food companies, announced it was collaborating with IBM to develop an AI application capable of generating flavors and food products, taking the project one step further.

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The goal, according to the group, is to begin "ushering in a new era of flavor innovation".

thanksgiving dinner friends
AI could completely revolutionize the way we eat.
Getty Images

McCormick will be using 40 years of data from IBM Research to learn about and produce new flavor combinations, with a view to becoming well-versed in flavor palettes, consumer preferences, and sensory science.

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According to CNN, the IBM system can analyze hundreds of thousands of formulas that have been tested in the past, using roughly 5,000 ingredients — a task that simply can't be carried out by one person alone.

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While AI can't completely replace humans — at least as far as our palates are concerned — it is capable of analyzing masses of data and quickly generating new flavor ideas. Ultimately, humans have to do the taste tests and to approve the flavor combinations but AI can certainly ease the load.

Cocktails bar
The AI came up with everything from new cocktail recipes to theatre, music, and viruses.
Cristi Lucaci/Shutterstock

The AI platform for McCormick's product will be called ONE and is expected to be launched mid-year — according to the release, new flavors created by AI could reach US retailers in late spring.