Believe it or not, Microsoft recently introduced the world's most-innovative whiskey and that's certainly intriguing. But what's even more intriguing is the fact that it was developed with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. Microsoft is among the pioneers of modern computing and technology and they certainly have one of the biggest teams researching various modern-day aspects and applications of artificial intelligence.
Of late, AI is making its way into almost everything, right from Kitchen appliances to smart Toilets. But how did it get into a whiskey this time around? Microsoft News Centre Europe has published a fairly detailed piece explaining how it came about designing the AI-made whiskey. Let's take a look:
Microsoft is teaming up with two new companies: Fourkind and Mackmyra Whisky to create the “world’s first whisky developed with artificial intelligence.” Fourkind is a Finnish tech company behind the AI algorithm whereas Mackmyra Whisky is distilleries company based out of Sweden. To understand how it works, first, we have to understand some basics of the distillation process.
As part of the distillation process, the spirit made out of barley that goes through different processes (malting, mashing, fermentation) has to spend years in wooden casks to mature into a whiskey and the amount of time it spends into those wooden casks depends on their respective blends and recipes.
Up until now, humans have always tweaked different blends of ingredients and casks to create different flavour combinations. Now, this is where the AI comes into a picture. Mackmyra feeds its existing recipes, sales data and customer preferences to machine learning models that are powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and Azure cognitive services. This dataset will help the AI generate over 70 million recipes and predict their popularity.
As Microsoft explains, this is not only faster than a manual process by human intervention but it also holds the ability to come up with "new and innovative" combinations. Importantly, Microsoft also says that this AI solution is not designed to replace a Master Blender.
“While the whisky recipe is created by AI, we still benefit from a person’s expertise and knowledge, especially the human sensory part, that can never be replaced by any program. We believe that the whisky is AI-generated but human-curated. Ultimately, the decision is made by a person,“ Angela D’Orazio, Master Blender at Mackmyra said.
“We are showing the way forward, and these new AI solutions can be used to generate products that retain the spirit, look and feel of the brands behind them, while at the same time being new and unique,” Jarno Kartela, Machine Learning Partner at Fourkind said.