South By Southwest: Secrets, Spying, Chef Watson

FOMO -- or the fear of missing out -- is a common complaint at the South By Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas each year.

It's here, after all, that "Girls" creator Lena Dunham spoke on Monday at the same time that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden gave a teleconferenced talk. All the while, 7-11 trucks handed out free pizza in exchange for a tweet, and IBM showed off the capabilities of cognitive computing in a language anyone could understand: food.

Here's a sampling of what you missed if you weren't able to make the annual geek pilgrimage:

IBM served up a six-course tasting menu and gave out food samples to show off Watson, the computing system best known for winning "Jeopardy" three years ago. What happens when you ask a computer to analyze thousands of recipes and match chemical flavor compounds that are most likely to surprise people -- but also taste good? Recipes a human would have never dreamed up, says Carly DeFilippo of the Institute of Culinary Education, whose chefs created the recipes inspired by Watson. Input a region -- be that Russia, Kansas or Ecuador -- a main ingredient or two and a type of food, such as soup or pie. The output: Creations such as a creamy Czech pork belly moussaka with peas, parsley root, cottage cheese and dill, or Kenyan Brussels sprouts with sweet potato puree, ginger and almonds.

IBM is quick to point out that Watson is not meant to replace chefs. Rather, the project is meant to get people thinking about real-life applications for cognitive computing.

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