No, We Don’t Need AI Ovens

A new oven from Samsung comes with artificial intelligence and video streaming.

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Photo: PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP (Getty Images)

When it comes to cooking, I am all about technologybut only to a point. Samsung is releasing a new lineup of Bespoke home ovens in North America in the third quarter of 2023, and they come loaded with some intense features, reports The Verge. Not only does the oven come equipped with capabilities beyond what anyone could possibly need, but there are, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, simply too many capabilities.

Features of Samsung’s new Bespoke oven

The press release for the device includes this description of what the oven is designed to do when cooking your go-to meals:

AI Pro Cooking optimizes cooking settings while monitoring food. If the oven is set to cook a recognized dish using the cooking mode, temperature and time the oven recommends, the AI Pro Cooking system will even send users food warning notifications to prevent burning. Using an internal camera and powerful AI, the oven’s Sense Inside feature – the first food recognition and burn detection AI algorithm of its kind to receive an AI cooking appliance verification by UL Solutions – can recommend cooking settings by recognizing 80 different dishes and ingredients.

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So, the internal system uses video to recognize the dish to cook it properly for you. I concede that the early burn detection is kind of thoughtful. But I mean, you’re cooking. Do you have a habit of putting something in the oven and, like, running out to see a movie or something? Why wouldn’t you be at home to check the oven? And even if you’re indisposed, or if you lack an adequate sense of smell to determine how far along your dish is in its cooking process, there are ways for a high-tech oven to detect overcooking that don’t involve cameras at all. But of course, the cameras have other motives.

The Verge notes that this internal camera can be used to stream your oven’s contents to social media. As much as I love watching cooking videos, is there really sufficient interest in an oven that shares the visual progress of your roasted chicken to YouTube or Twitch, and enough people who would pay a premium for the opportunity? Maybe I’m getting really old, but this seems like the internet equivalent of watching paint dry.

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You don’t need AI to cook good food

I do love when technology and food work in tandem with each other, but only to help me achieve the best results while adding convenience. For me, the most valuable kitchen tech simply monitors the temperature of my food so that I can know whether my pork shoulder is transforming from tough to tender on schedule, as my smoker thermometer does. Or it’s a tool like a sous vide device, which can hold food at a precise temperature so I can achieve hyper-precise and consistent results.

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Other than that, though, attention to detail will serve you better than advanced kitchen technology. AI can’t force you to pay attention to a recipe and complete the steps properly, nor can it actually insert or extract the dish from the oven when it needs to be there.

What AI can’t do in the kitchen

AI might help you achieve the proper temp, stream your cooking online (ugh), and prevent your dinner from smoking up the house, but there’s a key thing it can’t do: season your food properly.

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That’s something only you can do right—I have faith in you!—and if you screw that step up, even a properly cooked roast will taste bland and disappointing. AI might be able to tell you how thoroughly cooked your salmon is, but it can’t tell you whether it could use a bit more acid or pepper.

Instinct is that one thing that turns decent cooking into great cooking. I understand that some people have money to burn and will want the fanciest, most high-tech gadget in their kitchen (one without a handle, because that’s considered “clutter,” for some reason?). But as intriguing as the idea of a futuristic kitchen might sound, there’s no accounting for taste, and in this case I mean that literally. The best meal is rarely one that has been streamed live to an internet audience. Spend your money on something more fun.