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Robots to Take on Taste Testing

Posted May 18, 2019 12:00 AM by M-ReeD
Pathfinder Tags: FOOD MANUFACTURING robot

Read any number of articles on the topic of workplace automation and you too will believe that the end is neigh…at least for certain jobs, that is. While it seems that we can expect a number of future jobs to have at least some component automated, most of us are still waiting on robots to absorb the jobs we can’t stand to do; for instance, diaper changer or garbage-taker-outer. Where are those robot job takers?

Instead, automation is reportedly taking away a job that quite frankly is probably among the most enjoyable and, truth be told, a job I’ve been training for all my life: food taster.

Manufacturers of traditional Chinese food in China are employing artificial intelligence (AI)-powered taste-testing robots to ensure the quality and authenticity of mass-produced Chinese food.

More than 10 traditional Chinese food manufacturers have been participating in the government-funded program led by the School of Food and Biological Engineering at Jiangsu University in Zhenjiang for three years, where AI machines ensure the quality of traditional Chinese foods such as cured pork belly, black rice vinegar, fine dried noodles, Chinese yellow wine and tea along various points of the production line.

What was once a job held by humans is now automated by AI-powered machines outfitted with electrical and optical sensors to mimic human eyes, noses and tongues, and brains that run a neural network algorithm that locates patterns in data. Placed along the production line, the robots monitor the foods, from raw ingredient to end product, making sure that the foods have consistent colors, smells and tastes. This is achieved through the robot’s artificial tongue which “tastes” the food, collecting visual and aroma information. To train the machines, a panel of food experts taught the AI to learn and simulate human responses to sensory information.

All participating Chinese food manufacturers have reported better profits thanks to the AI taste-testing robots, which reportedly sped up the pace of the taste-testing, tasting items in just one second versus the amount of time that it takes humans to complete the same task. Similarly, the robots can work without interruption, unlike humans. In addition to increased productivity, participants have reported reduced production costs and improved product quality and stability.

However, the AI has been criticized by some. Among its detractors is Sun Lin, director of international affairs at the China Cuisine Association, the largest society of chefs in China, who suggested that taste judgments should not be determined by robots.

“Chinese food is extremely sophisticated. It is probably the most difficult to standardise in the world.” Lin added that different chefs from the same location might create different tastes for the same exact dish.

“It is hard to judge which is the most authentic,” Sun said. “I don’t think AI can tell the difference within the next two or three decades.”

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#1

Re: Robots to Take on Taste Testing

05/18/2019 12:27 AM

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#2

Re: Robots to Take on Taste Testing

05/18/2019 9:13 AM

Unfortunately, 8 out of 10 robots prefer that metallic taste that I don't like...

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Re: Robots to Take on Taste Testing

05/18/2019 11:35 AM

Great. We'll all be enjoying the smell of napalm in the morning.

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#4

Re: Robots to Take on Taste Testing

05/18/2019 4:04 PM

Tastes are as 'individual' as the people doing the tasting (ie: you like broccoli, I don't), so does that mean all the robots are gonna come up with different taste results (wink,wink)?

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#5

Re: Robots to Take on Taste Testing

05/19/2019 8:20 AM

365 ways to cook eggs / Harper Collins / English version

1 way to cook 365 eggs / Chinese version

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Re: Robots to Take on Taste Testing

05/23/2019 10:11 PM

The 100 year old egg....

Baby pears....

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Re: Robots to Take on Taste Testing

05/23/2019 11:35 PM

My wife has a jar of salty plums in a canning jar using henry putnam's cover groove type cap. They have been in there for over 15 years, 100 year old eggs must be really good.

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