MIT Students Teach AI To Make Pizza And It Is Pretty Delicious

Artificial intelligence (AI) can now sing songs for us, helps us to find the cure to incurable diseases, reduce the consumption of oil and even forecast the earthquake’s aftershocks. But do you know they can now even cook for us?

Yes! You read it right. A group of students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created an artificial intelligence that cook pizza and they are quite pleased with how it came out. The pizza created by the AI includes “wale[sic] walnut ranch dressing” as a pizza topping.

The project is named “How to Generate (Almost) Anything” and it is created by MIT student Pinar Yanardag and postdoctoral researchers. Each week, the group will release something (perfume, art, food) created with an artist or artisan or scientist on YouTube, Medium, and social media.

“By augmenting human capabilities and pushing the boundaries of creativity, can AI inspire us to create things that wouldn’t have existed otherwise? A dress designed with a crazy hat, a pizza made with shrimp & jam or a scent that has never been smelled before?” the team said.

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In order to create a pizza, the first challenge for Pinar’s and his team was to train the machine learning model to cook pizza. The researcher trained the system over hundreds of “artisan pizza recipes” from food blogs around the web and with what it learned, came up with combinations that it thinks would go well together.

“In general, AI models are very good at connecting different pieces of information together – that’s why there is usually a surprise factor in anything that an AI generates,” Yanardag said. “In our pizza experiment, we saw something similar where Artificial Intelligence combined ingredients like shrimp and Italian sausage with jam, which it picked up from a dessert pizza.”

To try how the AI system will cook pizza in reality, the researchers teamed up with Crush Pizza’s 900-degree wood-fired oven, an artisan pizza restaurant in Boston, Massachusetts.

Since the students’ algorithm is still in the process of learning, some recipes seemed weird and looked odder than others. They also missed some missed important ingredients like sauce or cheese.

Some pizza recipes even included ingredients that AI made up itself, like “snipped caramel cheese” and “wale walnut ranch dressing,” while some of the recipes contained a few typical ingredients one called for “snipped caramel cheese” and “wale walnut ranch dressing”, others came out surprisingly tasty-sounding “sweet potato beans and brie”.

None of them were perfect, because the team’s AI system didn’t consider composition or flavor in its mashups, it sometimes omitted protein, sauces, and cheese.

The students then worked with Tony Naser, owner and chef of Crush Pizza in Boston as the human artisan who was tweaking the recipes and baking the pizzas.

The project resulted in some silly pizza recipes like blueberry, spinach, and feta pizza; bacon, avocado, and peach pizza; shrimp, jam and Italian sausage pizza; sweet potato, beans, and brie pizza; and apricot, pear, cranberry, and ricotta pizza.

Interestingly, the shrimp, jam and Italian sausage pizza turned out to bey the team’s favorite. It was so good, in fact, that Naser is considering putting it on the menu at his restaurant.

“We didn’t really see it coming but it was definitely the BEST pizza of all,” they said in the Medium post. “After the tasting, Tony also decided to put some arugula on top which really elevated the taste as well (human-AI collaboration, yay!).”

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The project aims to show that humans can work with AI-powered robots in the future and that it’s not as threatening and dangerous as it seems to be based on every new leap Artificial Intelligence takes. The pizza project hints at a future in which artificial intelligence can contribute to a better life for us.

“Everyday, we started to see more news about how machines are becoming better at human jobs, which makes people worried that AI will ultimately lead to mass unemployment by replacing them,” Yanardag tells CNBC Make It.

“In this project, we playfully wanted to show to the public that we don’t have to fear from the AI, but rather, we can work together with AI to achieve the most creative and productive outcomes,” says Yanardag.

“Artificial Intelligence is here to help us — in anything from pizza-making to fashion design — not to replace us,” Yanardag tells CNBC Make It.

This is not the first time MIT students have gotten creative with science and technology. A month ago, students from MIT cracked a long-lasting theory that it’s impossible to break a piece of uncooked spaghetti in only two pieces.

The challenge couldn’t be solved even by the great mind and physicist Richard Feynman, but the MIT students built a machine that put that theory to rest.

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