IBM's Watson: Now for 'Top Chef'?

IBM is exploring new ways to make money out of its Jeopardy-winning computer. Would you dine at Chez Watson?

Watson in his "Jeopardy" days. IBM/YouTube; screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Great chefs are crazy.

There are many kinds of crazy. Some of these culinarians rant, rave, and spit fire and brimstone. Some pore over their ingredients like scientists: quiet, brooding, and deeply serious.

All believe they can create their own particular gastronomic dreams, ones nobody else can copy. Especially not a computer.

IBM thinks different.

Having seen its Watson computer crush mere humans at the trivial game of "Jeopardy," the company is now setting the machine's sights on bigger business.

According to The New York Times, the world of haute cuisine is one in which IBM would like to make a robotic incursion.

Indeed, Watson has already put a tiny part of his mind into creating something called the Spanish Crescent.

This breakfast pastry comprised cocoa, saffron, black pepper, almonds, and honey -- but not butter. Oh, yes, Watson is a very California chef.

This little pastry was served only to insiders. And the cooks who had to execute it had to battle with the idea of using vegetable oil rather than butter.

So one can only imagine what the exalted palates of chefs like Jose Andres, Eric Ripert, and "Top Chef"'s Tom Colicchio might make of Watson's recipes.

However, what if the Watson name was put behind a restaurant concept? Wouldn't that be something that would fascinate?

Imagine the restaurant's interior design. There'd be servers all around the room. Large, lumpy computers, that is.

As for human servers, perhaps there'd be little need. Perhaps you'd just order on an iPad and the food would shoot up from below your table on a futuristic dumbwaiter.

And the food at Chez Watson? His handlers believe one of Watson's great strengths is to know very quickly what the wrong answers are.

So one can only hope that he would create inventive but wonderful combinations that would then be executed by compliant cooks who would bow to his HALness.

One can also hope that Chez Watson would get a better review in The New York Times than did Guy Fieri's American Kitchen & Bar In Times Square.

But in case it didn't, IBM's engineers have already taken precautions. They discovered earlier this year that Watson had memorized the Urban Dictionary. Like so many chefs, he had a proclivity for profanity, which has now been dampened.

So Chez Watson's kitchen will be, in every sense, pristine.

 

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