The idea of applying Google's AI technology to baking cookies started one day at lunch. A member of the team working on AI in Pittsburgh, Greg Kochanski was concerned that the technology would ultimately only be used for large corporate applications. He wanted something more real-world. From that conversation grew the Google cookie experiment.

The team began the project by working with John Karbowski, a Google chef. They started baking chocolate chip cookies using recipes devised by the AI, which works by using a small data set to create the optimal ingredient list and baking instructions based on any number of parameters. Google employees taste-tested the cookies resulting from many experiments, and their feedback was fed into the AI to help it make better decisions about the next batch. The team determined the best basic chocolate chip cookie recipe.

To challenge the technology, the Google team next turned to Jeanette Harris, local founder of the Gluten Free Goat Bakery. The collaboration between Harris and the Google AI resulted in 59 test batches, and a delicious “smart” cookie recipe containing two teaspoons of cardamom—something Harris says she never would’ve tried adding on her own.