We wondered if there was a way to leverage computers and hundreds of pre-existing recipes to create the most average chocolate chip cookie. Would it be bland and unremarkable? Or, perhaps like averaging human facial features, the results would be even better than each of its individual parts. Maybe an average cookie would be the most delicious of them all.
But what is an average cookie? We decided to interpret this idea using three different methods: a mathematical average, predictive text algorithms, and neural networks. After feeding each algorithm over 200 chocolate chip cookie recipes, they each generated something new. And, yes, we actually baked them.
- 85g brown basmati rice, cooked in salted water and drained
- 400g tin flageolet beans (or other cooked pulse), drained
- 100g cashew nuts
- 1 red onion, roughly chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 115g sweetcorn, drained
- a squeeze of tomato purée
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- big pinch each salt and pepper
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Form into 4 burgers. Dust the sticky burgers with some brown flour on both sides then chill on a plate in the fridge for an hour or so.
Cook in a pan over a medium-high heat with 1 tbsp oil for 5-6 minutes on each side. Serve in toasted buns with shredded crunchy lettuce, a slice of tomato and whatever sauces you like.
(I served these with sweet potato fries: cut up your sweet potatoes and toss well with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp polenta, and 1/4 to 1/2 tsp each of your favourite herbs and spices. I used smoked paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander, oregano, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper. Lay on a baking sheet and cook at 200°C for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway.)
A couple of years ago someone attempted to make a list of every video game ever made, and put it in a 6.5MB flat file. Like any sensible person, I used it to train a recurrent neural network.
- Metal Cat (2001, Sega) (Windows)
- Spork Demo (?, ?) (VIC-20)
- Black Mario (1983, Softsice) (Linux/Unix)
- Soccer Dragon (1987, Ange Software) (Amstrad CPC)
- Mutant Tycoon (2000, Konami) (GBC)
- Dick of the King (2007, Activision) (PC-9801)
- Spork Race (Universe) (1990, Atlus) (Arcade)
The ‘Spork’ franchise sounds like something I’d play, and ‘Black Mario’ seems sufficiently inclusive.
See also these wonderful recipes generated using a predictive text interface:
And Friends episodes: