Mi­crosoft heads to Swe­den to cre­ate world’s first ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence whisky

The Scotsman - - AROUND SCOTLAND - By SEAN MUR­PHY

Two ver y dif­fer­ent worlds will come to­gether as a global brand at the fore­front of tech and in­no­va­tion and a small dis­tiller that uses time- hon­oured tech­niques team up to cre­ate the world’s first ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence- cre­ated whisky.

The new project will see Mi­crosoft, to­gether with Fin­nish ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence ( AI) ex­perts Fourkind, and Mack­myra, a suc­cess­ful Swedish whisky dis­tillery, de­velop an en­tirely unique whisky.

Set to be avail­able from this au­tumn, the fi­nal spirit will be the first com­plex con­sumer prod­uct recipe that will have been cre­ated with ma­chine learn­ing.

Though firmly em­bed­ded in an in­dus­try that very much r el i es on t r adi­tion, Mack­myra, which was f ounded in 1999, has been keen to use in­no­va­tion to im­prove their pro­cesses. The dis­tillery team said they be­lieved the pos­si­bil­i­ties for dif­fer­ent whiskies were end­less, with their ex­pe­ri­enced whisky mak­ers us­ing AI to help cre­ate – and aug­ment – the best flavour pro­files pos­si­ble.

An­gela D’orazio, mas­ter blender at Mack­myra, said: “We see AI as a part of our dig­i­tal de­vel­op­ment. It is re­ally ex­cit­ing to let AI be a com­ple­ment to the craft of pro­duc­ing a high- qual­ity whisky.”

To cre­ate the new spirit, the dis­tillery’s ma­chine learn­ing mod­els, pow­ered by Mi­crosoft’s Azure cloud plat­form and AI cog­ni­tive ser­vices, will be fed with Mack­myra’s ex­ist­ing recipes, sales data and cus­tomer pref­er­ences. With this dataset, the AI can gen­er­ate more than 70 mil­lion recipes that it pre­dicts will be pop­u­lar and of the high­est qual­ity.

Mi­crosoft say us­ing AI is not only faster than a per­son car­ry­ing out the process man­u­ally, but that, thanks to the al­go­rithm’s abil­ity to sift through and cal­cu­late a vast amount of data, new and in­no­va­tive com­bi­na­tions that would other­wise never have been con­sid­ered can be found.

How­ever, Mack­myra said the tech­nol­ogy was not de­signed to re­place their cur­rent mas­ter blender.

Ja r n o Kar t e l a , machin e l e arn­ing par t ner at Fourkind, said: “Al­though lack­ing hu­man ex­per­tise, we can teach ma­chines to un­der­stand what el­e­ments pre­vi­ous recipes and prod­ucts are made of and how they are per­ceived and ranked by cus­tomers and ex­perts. With this as a raw data as­set, we can lever­age a com­bi­na­tion of ex­plo­rative al­go­rithms to gen­er­ate end­less new recipes and prod­ucts and then use a set of dis­crim­i­na­tive al­go­rithms to un­der­stand which of them might be great, re­peat­ing un­til bet­ter recipes are not found.”

Mi­crosoft said they fore­see AI sys­tems gen­er­at­ing recipes for sweets, per­fumes, bev­er­ages and po­ten­tially even sneaker de­signs in the near fu­ture.

0 Mack­myra’s An­gela D’orazio men­tor for the AI- gen­er­ated whisky

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