News & Blog

The Future of Artificial Intelligence: Can AI Develop a Taste for Food?

News & Blog

The field of artificial intelligence (AI) is advancing at a remarkable pace, with AI systems becoming increasingly sophisticated. However, there is one aspect of human intelligence that has proven elusive for AI to emulate – emotional intelligence. Researchers at Penn State are working on a groundbreaking project to bridge this gap by developing an “electronic tongue” that mimics how taste influences what we eat based on both physiological needs and psychological desires. This innovative technology could potentially serve as a blueprint for creating AI that processes information more like a human being. In this blog post, we will explore this exciting development and its implications for the future of AI.

The Complex Nature of Human Behavior

Human behavior is a complex interplay of physiological needs and psychological desires. While AI has made significant strides in replicating human cognition, it has yet to effectively incorporate the emotional and psychological aspects of human intelligence. Emotional intelligence, in particular, has been challenging to integrate into AI systems.

The researchers at Penn State, led by Saptarshi Das, Associate Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics, recognized the need to bring emotional intelligence to AI. Emotions are a fundamental part of human decision-making, and they play a crucial role in our eating habits. What we eat is heavily influenced by our sense of taste and flavor preferences, which is different from the physiological need for sustenance. The development of an electronic tongue aims to bridge this gap by allowing AI to understand and incorporate emotional factors in decision-making.

The Role of Gustation in Decision-Making

Gustation, the process of taste perception, plays a significant role in our food choices. It involves how our sense of taste helps us decide what to consume based on flavor preferences, rather than solely on hunger. For example, even when we are full, we may be tempted by a slice of chocolate cake at an afternoon party because our psychological desire for the sweet taste overrides our physiological fullness.

As Saptarshi Das explains, “If you are someone fortunate to have all possible food choices, you will choose the foods you like most.” This phenomenon highlights the complex relationship between physiological and psychological factors in determining what we eat.

The Electronic Tongue: Mimicking Human Gustation

To address this challenge, the research team at Penn State has developed an electronic “tongue” that mimics the human gustatory system. This electronic tongue comprises tiny, graphene-based electronic sensors called chemitransistors, which can detect various taste profiles such as sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. These sensors are combined with memtransistors made of molybdenum disulfide, which can remember past signals, creating an “electronic gustatory cortex.”

For example, when the device detects salt, it senses sodium ions, allowing it to “taste” salt. The use of two different 2D materials, graphene and molybdenum disulfide, complements each other to replicate the human gustatory system effectively.

Applications of the Electronic Tongue

The potential applications of this robotic gustatory system are vast. It could lead to AI-curated diets based on emotional intelligence, helping individuals make healthier food choices and potentially aiding in weight loss. Restaurants could offer personalized meal recommendations based on customers’ taste preferences and emotions, enhancing the dining experience.

The researchers’ next objective is to broaden the electronic tongue’s taste range by creating arrays of graphene devices to mimic the diversity of taste receptors on the human tongue. This could enable the development of AI systems that excel in discerning subtle differences in tastes, similar to trained wine tasters.

Future Developments: Gustatory Emotional Intelligence in AI

While the research has focused on replicating the gustatory system, the concept of gustatory emotional intelligence in AI can serve as a model for incorporating emotional intelligence into other senses, such as visual, audio, tactile, and olfactory emotional intelligence. The research team envisions AI systems that can replicate human behavior more closely as our understanding of the human brain improves.

In the future, integrated gustatory chips could simplify the technology further, making it more accessible for various applications. As we better understand the brain’s inner workings, AI technology can continue to evolve and become even more advanced.


The development of an electronic tongue that mimics human gustation and emotional intelligence is a significant step towards creating AI systems that can process information more like human beings. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way AI systems make decisions, particularly in the realm of food choices. As researchers continue to refine this technology and expand its applications, we can look forward to a future where AI not only understands our tastes but also our emotions, leading to more personalized and intelligent interactions with machines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CaribbTech Dynamics Online