July 24, 2015
Robotic Cooks And Your Own Preferred Recipes

In the future you will get food automatically prepared for you wherever you go exactly the way you want it. The diversity and quality of prepared food available in a small city will far exceed that available in the biggest and most diverse city of today.

Each person will gradually build up a personalized set of computer-encoded very detailed recipes for favorite dishes along with a profile specific aversions and preferences you might have about various fruits, vegetables, fish, seasoning and other food ingredients. Friends (and random people on the internet) will give you access to their own favorite recipes. A computer somewhere in the cloud will store all this information. It will also store the information on preferred dishes of people all over the world. Hundreds of millions of people will put their preferred recipes in the public domain. Travel to go eat exotic food will no longer be necessary. An automated restaurant will deliver the world's cuisines to any place big enough to support the capital investment for a first class robotic cooking system. The cost of such a system will decline with time.

The intelligent dining recipe computer system will also have extensive knowledge about each restaurant including automated cooking devices, food ingredients on hand, and waits to expect at each restaurant. A database of information about various models of robotic cooking equipment will be very detailed with regard to their food preparation capabilities. Another database will supply detailed information about which restaurants have which kinds of automated cooking equipment. The computer system will also know the inventories of currently stocked ingredients at each restaurant. The computer system will even know projected wait times and food prep times for each dish you are considering.

So what happens when you want to go out to eat? Something akin to match making and bidding. The software will report to you which restaurants can prepare which of your preferred meals for your preferred eating time, at what price, and will report quality considerations due to ingredient quality and equipment quality. It will report expected wait times too. You'll be able to select your preferred food and restaurant and have the food cooked while you are en route.

Existing fast food restaurant chains try to deliver very consistent meals. Not great. But usually knowable from previous experience at other restaurants in the same chain. But fully robotic food prep using robots that can precisely prepare many dishes will raise the game far above the current fast food chains. Variety will be enormous because the better robotic cooks will be able to cook a very wide range of dishes, especially when they are in restaurants that have a large assortment of ingredients. Upper end robotic cooks will offer great precision, faster speed, and a much wider skill set than the average human cook.

You'll be able to record your satisfaction (or lack thereof) afterward and the computer will learn what you ended up liking or disliking and why. Its machine learning models will get better at predicting which which meals at which restaurants you'll like and it will provide probabilities for satisfaction the next time you want to eat out.

Granted, some people will be up for random eating experiences with food made by human cooks and they'll still be able to do that. But if you are on a business trip and don't want a challenge and disappointment at dinner time the ability of many restaurants to prepare it exactly as you like it will give you a much more consistent and higher quality dining experience. It will cost less, use less time, and give you a better eating experience.

Also, if you really want a somewhat semi-random eating experience you won't need a human cook. You can just try recipes recommended by others or, even better, recipes recommended by competing machine learning models. You will be able to eat a much greater variety of dishes because an advanced automated commercial kitchen that serves a lot of customers will be able to stock lots of ingredients and will feature cooking devices that can prepare these ingredients in a great many ways.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2015 July 24 07:48 PM 

Beth Donovan said at July 26, 2015 11:52 AM:

Gosh, it makes me kind of sad to think that an individual chef, who might add something different for a change that could make a good meal better, would be out of the picture.
I like to think of meal preparation as something of an art.

This takes all artistry away. Meh.

Rad4Cap said at July 26, 2015 12:46 PM:

"it makes me kind of sad to think that an individual chef, who might add something different for a change that could make a good meal better, would be out of the picture."

I think you missed the point that "some people will be up for random eating experiences and they'll still be able to do that". So artistry for those seeking art, and a sure thing for those seeking their own individual satisfaction. Win-Win all around. :)

Pettifogger said at July 26, 2015 12:49 PM:

"I like to think of meal preparation as something of an art."

So it is, and I expect the art will still be available for a price measured both in dollars and in time. But most of us can't afford original oil paintings. We settle for prints. So I expect it will be with food. Imagine the food equivalent of a print of the Mona Lisa being readily available at numerous restaurants.

Russ in TX said at July 27, 2015 7:23 AM:


Having spent quite some time working in Restaurant America, I can say with some confidence that the average American has never gotten anywhere near a real chef. The restaurant reality bears no resemblance to your average Bourdain show whatsoever (something Bourdain himself, unlike the average considerably-less-honest cooking-show bobblehead, is quick to admit in print). "Artistry in food" is something reserved for foodies and the wealthy. The majority of people eat food that is prepared by *cooks* working in terrible conditions for horrifying hours, often while sick, producing dishes with rote mechanical efficiency in order to avoid being completely overwhelmed by the next set of orders.

Beth Donovan said at July 28, 2015 11:44 AM:

you must live in an awful place. Or had an awful experience working in a restaurant.

Russ in TX said at July 29, 2015 7:58 AM:

Beth, I really haven't exaggerated at all. The real world of restaurants is a lot different than it's typically portrayed on t.v. One of the reasons Bourdain got famous with Kitchen Confidential was thousands of people just like me going "haha, yeah, I've lived this, and he's soft-pedalling it, let me tell you 'bout the time..."

Brett Bellmore said at July 30, 2015 9:56 AM:

I got very close to a real chef once. (Setting aside my sister being one...) Happened to stay at the CNN center in Atlanta once, on a holiday weekend when somebody had neglected to schedule any conventions. (He lost his job, of course.)

The only person in the hotel restaurant, not only did I get a delicious meal, the chef came out to chat with me while I ate it, he was so bored.

KevinM said at August 4, 2015 2:00 AM:

here's a working prototype:

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