The New York Times has a story about the recent Smart Kitchen Summit in Seattle, which “brings together people on the front lines of kitchen technology to try to figure out how to move the digital revolution deeper into the kitchen.”

There seemed to be a general consensus that “it was only a matter of five to 10 years before artificial intelligence had a permanent seat at the dinner table.
The coming kitchen technology, they said, will go well beyond a screen on the refrigerator door that allows you to check the weather while you search recipes and update the family calendar.

“Your power blender may be able to link to a device on your wrist that’s been tracking your diet, then check in with your freezer and your kitchen scale. It could set up the right smoothie recipe based on what’s on hand, how much weight you’ve gained and which fruit you prefer. Your oven will be able to decide how and when to start roasting the salmon, then text the family when dinner’s ready. Your refrigerator may be able to place a grocery store order, based on a careful study of how much you like to pay for certain items, whether you want them organic and whether peaches are in season.”

And, the story suggests, “Artificial intelligence will eventually understand your cooking needs so well that you need only tell a device that you’d like to make your grandmother’s chicken and noodles on Thursday, and all the ingredients will be ordered, paid for and delivered in time to cook.”

However, the Times writes, “much of this is still just a glint in an engineer’s eye. To truly connect everything in the kitchen, technology and recipes will have to be standardized in such a way that food can be tracked from the farm to the plate.” At the same time, “None of technical solutions seemed to account for how a cook might consider the ripeness of a pear, or thrill from creating a new recipe out of a pile of fresh chanterelles. The sense of satisfaction in learning a new dish or getting better at something didn’t seem to be part of the kitchen of the future.”

KC's View: It is a pretty good guess that none of the technical solutions accounted for non-technical issues because it was technicians who were developing them. They have a natural bias.

From my perspective, I tend to think that these two approaches can exist side-by-side. Artificial intelligence can help people have the time and information to engage in non-technical activities and explore other facets of the kitchen experience. Not everybody will take advantage of the opportunity, but I think it is mistake to simply assume that these two approaches are mutually exclusive.