Ever had your computer express its love for you? The answer is probably no. But I think we all know deep down our computers really do love us and are just too shy to express it (we hope). Well, that could soon change. Because NotCo, the company that created a plant-based milk called NotMilk (as well as plant-based meat substitutes, NotChicken and NotBurger) has just announced their next futuristic venture: Using their NotCo AI (named Giuseppe), the company will be attempting to create food that “tastes like falling in love or the carefree experience of childhood.” Food flavored after abstract feelings and concepts?! Who are they, Coca-Cola?
So how can artificial intelligence create foods that taste like such quintessentially human feelings and experiences?
Well, NotCo claims that Giuseppe can understand English, a “capability known as natural language processing—meaning that the system can be taught to understand how people describe falling in love.” I don’t know about this. Another robot that uses natural language processing is Siri, but whenever I ask her for dating advice she just says, “I don’t know how to respond to that,” sings me a song about fire trucks, and calls it a night.
And I personally have a hard time believing in “falling in love-flavored food.” How do you create food that tastes like an experience or memory?! As far as I know, the only chef to pull that off successfully was Remy from Ratatouille, and he’s an animated rat. So why should a computer be able to do it? I’m also skeptical because no computer has ever passed the Turing Test (a test used to determine if a computer can successfully impersonate a human in conversation). I just have a hard time believing a computer will know what falling in love would feel like, let alone what it tastes or smells like. But maybe I’m wrong! I guess we will find out when NotCo finally develops this new tech and begins to use it, which will apparently be sometime relatively soon.
NotCo AI just acquired three new patents to add to its AI system. “Two of the patents are for ways for Giuseppe to pull new knowledge out of food data in relation to scent,” said NotCo CEO Karim Pichara. He added, “The third translates that information into something more easily understood by flavor houses and directly connects NotCo to those companies.” So not only will Giuseppe be able to connect people’s reported feelings to certain scents and flavors, but it (he?) will supposedly be able to then describe those exact flavor compounds to flavor houses so they can be recreated and used in food.
As a fan of NotMilk, I believe in their products. That said, I have both an overwhelming curiosity and a healthy skepticism about the prospect of a food company using AI in this way. But I will say, if NotCo comes out with a product called NotLove made of orange peels and semolina flour, you can bet your NotButt that I will be first in line to try it. I just hope that doesn’t mean I’ll be first in line for the technological singularity, when the robots finally do take over and leave us mortal humans in the dust.