As we learn more about the immense, world-altering capabilities of artificial intelligence, we also come to understand its most creative applications. Google’s latest entry into this space is tastier than its usual AI experiments – the company has used machine learning to create two new hybrid baking recipes.
The first, a “cakie,” is a cake-cookie hybrid. The second, a “breakie”, is a bread-cookie hybrid. As you can see below, neither looks like something you’d pick out of your local bakery’s window display, but Google’s focus here is more on science than aesthetics.
It’s one of those well, duh moments that leave us wondering why we didn’t use artificial intelligence sooner. Pastry is above all chemistry — sure it makes sense to use ultra-logical systems to boil it down to its basic components. Those early “hybrid” recipes are weird, sure, but the first person to make scones probably thought they were a little weird, too. To the right?
No Coding Required — We tend to think that artificial intelligence and machine learning require hyper-specific knowledge to work. But Google’s baking experience actually uses simplified tools that the average internet user could figure out with a bit of trial and error.
The tool in question: AutoML Tables, a Google Cloud feature that essentially takes tables of spreadsheet data and processes them through machine learning algorithms. Google recently updated AutoML tables to make them more user-friendly, including better explainer tools for the less tech-savvy.
Using AutoML Tables, Google researchers were able to create custom ‘scores’ for categories such as ‘cake’, ‘bread’ and ‘cookie’, enabling the machine learning model to read the ingredients of a recipe and guess with a high degree of confidence. which category a recipe belongs to. And, using those same models, the researchers were able to train the AI to create entirely new recipes like breakie and cakie.
The human element — There is at least one important thing that AI cannot yet do: be human. Yes, that sounds obvious, but there’s an inherent, random mess to our kitchen activities that machine learning has yet to perfect.
Science can create recipes, sure, but making them fun to eat is an entirely human feat. One researcher, Sara Robinson, said of the cake: “It’s delicious. And it tastes strangely like what I imagine would happen if I told a machine to make a cake-cookie hybrid.
So it’s no surprise, really, that the breakie and the cakie look like they were made by something, well, inhuman. Maybe one day AI will fully replicate the human condition and be able to yell at sous chefs like Gordon Ramsay, or create unusual combinations with the flair of Heston Blumenthal. but if we manage to do so, we might have ethical questions to answer outside of simple cooking…or more pressing problems to point technology towards.