Robotic Connoisseur

Fuller’s article gives us a description of a robot as a connoisseur, in a sense, since the machine can definitively and “scientifically” calculate the “authenticity” of Thai food. Robots seem to perfectly fit the definition of a connoisseur, since no person could ever know more, quantitatively speaking, than a robot. But for a subject as wide and creative as food, a device that tries to standardize the near infinite amount of combinations, mixes, and cultures that occur in food is doomed to fail. Taste and smell, both separate and especially in conjunction, are still not fully understood by us, and therefore cannot yet be effectively implemented into a machine. In this way, the robot’s analysis of food is arguably less knowledgeable than a Kindergartener. It can only compare and rate one reference for a dish that may change from city to city, all of which taste just as good as another to a human, but rate drastically different to the robot. It’s not like the entirety of a Thai dish can be put into specific terms; the dish depends on countless other things from freshness of ingredients to style of cooking. Science has not yet mastered food, and people in Thailand appear to hold the same position as I do, saying that “the government should consider using a human to gauge authenticity”, since all that really matters is that the food tastes good. Of course, this is subjective as well, just as the robot’s “tastes” are subjective in relation to a standard set by scientists. What one person (or thing) perceives as tasty depends on their upbringing, what kinds of food they have in the environment, and genetics, so it’s essentially useless to push a standard of “good tasting food” onto others, since everybody’s different. This is applicable to any snobbish connoisseur of food, since just because they can describe and dissect the food further than the layman, it doesn’t make them right. That said, if the government of Thailand wants the world to adhere to the single standard and grade set by the robotic taste tester, then they are free to “maintain tradition” while labeling differing evolutions of food as tainted or impure replications. It doesn’t matter what they label the food as, since it’s the individual consumer that ultimately decides whether or not they like the dish; if they don’t, then they can just not eat it again.

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