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IBM Watson’s next challenge: Invent a better poutine

January 23, 2015  

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IBM Watson, a cognitive computing system that can “ingest and reason about vast quantities of information” is being applied to a uniquely Canadian challenge: inventing a better poutine.

According to IBM, cognitive cooking with Watson highlights the distinctive flavours of Toronto and Montreal, which it said in a release is a bid to help Canadians discover the potential of cognitive computing.

Hundreds of IBM clients and partners across six continents, 25 countries, and 12 industries have cognitive computing projects underway on challenges ranging from finding more effective diagnosis and treatment options for cancer to creating new clothing designs.

In Canada, Watson projects include computer science students at the University of Toronto developing an all-knowing digital legal assistant named Ross, that can scan countless legal files, finding relevant precedents in seconds that would take lawyers many hours to unearth.

In addition, Guelph-based LifeLearn has created a decision support tool for veterinarians named Sofie, which can analyze information from text books, journals and associated veterinarian literature to provide vets with immediate evidence based treatment recommendations.

With “Chef Watson,” IBM is demonstrating that cognitive systems can also understand and reason about the big data behind cuisine, recipes, chemistry and food pairing theories to help people drive new creations and combinations of ingredients.

“To create new and unique poutine recipes, Watson has analyzed quintillions of ingredient combinations and regional flavour preferences to create five unique poutine recipes for each city,” IBM said in a release.

From February to early March, residents of Toronto and Montreal are invited to try the poutine recipes and vote online for their favourite. Canadians outside of those cities are also welcome to test the recipes and cast votes for their favourite Watson creation. The most popular recipe for each city will be revealed in early March.

Further information is available at


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