Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Health, Science & Tech
Contact 90.5 WESA with a story idea or news tip:

Think Your Grandma's Cookie Recipe Is The Best? Artificial Intelligence Might Say Otherwise

Joaquin Gonzalez
90.5 WESA
At the Gluten Free Goat Bakery in Garfield, owner Jeanette Harris gives a presentation on her new recipe as Google's local chef John Karbowski looks on.

Many recipes for holiday treats have been passed down through the generations, in dog-eared cookbooks or on tattered, chocolate-stained scraps of paper. But the Gluten Free Goat Bakery in Garfield is using the power of artificial intelligence, developed by Google, to add a little more spice to a holiday snack. 

The bakery’s owner, Jeanette Harris, wanted to create a new recipe for cardamom chocolate chip cookies. She gave Google fixed amounts for a few ingredients, like sugar and water, while asking them to vary the proportions for others, including the cardamom and safflower oil. 

Greg Kochanski, a software engineer at Google, said that the AI system then started generating recipes, which Google’s chefs would bake. Other employees tasted and rated each batch and those ratings were fed back to the AI. 

"It built a model of what people like and then gradually refined that model to search for the peak, the tastiest cookie," said Kochanski.

After 60 iterations, the final, optimized recipe contained two teaspoons of cardamom for a dozen cookies. Harris said, based on her previous experience as a baker, she would’ve thought that was way too much.

"But it turned out to be delicious and the only reason I tried it was because the AI told me to try it," said Harris.

The new cookies will be on sale at Gluten Free Goat Bakery throughout December.