Nicole Morrison- Can a robot really tell you if a food dish is delicious?


A small laboratory in Bangkok has come up with a robot that can apparently tell someone whether a Thai dish is authentic or not based on large sensors and computer circuitry which act as a tongue and nose. They called this robot e-Delicious, it has nine sensors that measure the balance of six Thai flavours- sweet, sour, bitter, salty, savoury, and spicy, as well as the foods aroma. The article states “The sensors give a taste-reading that we can understand. So if we like a certain taste, but can’t explain what that taste is to someone else, the machine will able to decipher it, and record the data as a standard for other dishes”. Many culinary experts disagree that this robot can truly decide whether a dish tastes good or not. Thai culinary expert David Thompson argues that it is impossible for this to happen as taste is subjective and we cannot just set one standard.

I found it interesting that the scientists behind the e-Delicious robot talk about it like it has a sense of taste and smell, comparing the machines technology to a nose and tongue. Last class we talk about authenticity and how we are placing less importance on human things. I believe this is a really good example of that, instead of letting actual human beings decide on whether a dish tastes good they are relying on a robot to tell someone whether it tastes good or not instead of letting people decide for themselves. The robot itself is using a universal idea of taste and smell, it does not consider the human conditioning of preferences, allergies, ethnic background, what you are accustomed to and so on. Taste is definitely not universal but by using this robot we are placing little significance on humans and our own opinions and caring more about what the robot deems “delicious”. Do you think this robot could really tell us whether we think a dish is delicious, or if we would really like something?

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