AI has suggested spraying glue on pizza, yet people still trust it to make lasagna

AI might recommend using glue to stick cheese to pizza, but new research reveals that people are still willing to put AI in charge of their kitchens – unless the model tries to get creative.

In May, Google rolled out a new AI Overview feature to its search engine, which was supposed to optimize the search experience with AI-generated answers to user queries.

It didn’t exactly turn out well, with users getting all kinds of outrageous answers, like “smoking during pregnancy is good” or “putting glue in a sauce” to make cheese stick to a pizza.

Despite a blow to overall trust in AI, researchers from Naples and Oxford Universities have concluded that, at least in the kitchen, people are still willing to trust AI’s cooking decisions.

The researchers compared people’s evaluations of recipes labeled as originating either from a cookbook made by human chefs or from AI generators. Two types of recipes were included – traditional recipes and innovative recipes.

The recipes, featuring both traditional and innovative variants of a Negroni cocktail and lasagna Bolognese, were tested on 201 people. The participants were also provided with images depicting the final dish or cocktail. The innovative versions included a white Negroni and a tomato-jam bacon lasagna.

The experiment results revealed that for the traditional Negroni and lasagna recipes, there were no differences in people’s trust. They trusted both guidelines, either coming from a cookbook or from an AI generator. This could be attributed to common sense.

Therefore, when recipes include unfamiliar steps or ingredients, instructions attributed to human chefs are perceived as more trustworthy. Participants had significantly less confidence in the innovative versions of the recipes when the instructions were generated by AI.

While chefs may suggest original steps or ingredients that are seen as extravagant yet trustworthy, there’s a risk that when AI systems recommend similar recipes, they could be dismissed as "hallucinations.”

The findings were published in a research paper in the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science on June 14th.

AI in our kitchens

With the world going crazy about AI, it’s finding its way into our kitchens as well. AI-based platforms, such as DishGen or tools like Smart Cuisine, allow users to generate recipes.

DishGen offers both traditional recipes and customized versions that adapt traditional recipes based on the ingredients users have on hand. Smart Cuisine enables users to create AI-generated recipes, also working with the ingredients available at the time.

However, the accuracy of AI is a cause of concern, especially in fields where an error might affect human health. DishGen puts disclaimers, saying that the company “has not verified it for accuracy or safety” and that users should make their own “best judgment when making AI-generated dishes.”

“The creation of an AI-generated cookbook without proper disclosure of its AI origins could mislead consumers, raising ethical questions about transparency and honesty in the culinary domain,” the researchers concluded.