A Scientist Tried to Teach a Computer How to Write a Recipe and the Results Are Hilarious

A Scientist Tried to Teach a Computer How to Write a Recipe and the Results Are Hilarious

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Susmita Baral
Apr 7, 2017
(Image credit: Rachel Mae Smith )

Research scientist Janelle Shane conducts quirky experiments during her free time and shares them with her Tumblr following. One such experiment involves neural networks; she provides the program with hundreds of pages of cookbooks so it can generate recipe titles.

In theory, this sounds like an amazing way to create new recipe ideas or, at the very least, come up with cool names. But the outcome from Shane's program has resulted with the strangest ideas you've ever heard of.

"So I've been training this neural network to generate cookbook recipes by letting it look at tens of thousands of existing recipes," Shane writes on Tumblr. "The generated titles can get a bit odd."

What kind of titles? When she sets the creativity variable low, she gets stuff like Cream of Sour Cream Cheese Soup or Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Cake. But when it's set high, there's Beef Soup with Swamp Peef and Cheese, Chocolate Pickle Sauce, Cabbage Pot Cookies, and Completely Meat Chocolate Pie.

Shane's neural network also dabbled in recipe generation and made it clear why recipe creation should be left to humans. Earlier recipes were filled with random ingredients and an incoherent combination of instructions.

Here's an example of a recipe.

Immediately Cares, Heavy Mimupe, chips

3 dill loasted substetcant
1 cubed chopped whipped cream
3 unpreased, stock; prepared; in season
1 oil
3 cup milk
1 ½ cup mOyzanel chopped
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 ¼ teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoon dijon stem – minced
30 dates afrester beater remaining

Bake until juice. Brush from the potato sauce: Lightly butter into the viscin. Cook combine water. Source: 0 25 seconds; transfer a madiun in orenge cinnamon with electres if the based, make drained off tala whili; or chicken to well. Sprinkle over skin greased with a boiling bowl. Toast the bread spritkries.

Yield: 6 servings

Of course, her program improved with time. Shane writes that producing recipes are impressive considering the program has "the memory of a goldfish" and can only analyze 65 characters at a time. As such, by the time the program has moved on to the instructions portion, the title is long gone and it has to guess what it's doing.

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