Is the end of the wine critic as we know them here?

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Is the end of the wine critic as we know them here?

Postby Gary J » Tue Aug 05, 2008 2:02 am

Robot wine tasters have arrived!

OK, these robot tasters are not here to replace the critic (breath deeply Rogov), they were apparently designed for quality control and fraud detection. See the article here at http://www.machineslikeus.com/cms/news/robot-wine-taster-knows-variety-and-vintage

Now, about getting rid of those wine critics... :wink:
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Re: Is the end of the wine critic as we know them here?

Postby Yoni M » Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:08 am

Hi Gary,

Back in February I came across a machine that can produce a tasting note, though only for espresso (for the time being). Here is what I posted:

Chemical engineers at Nestle in Switzerland have manufactured a machine that provides the "sensory profile of espresso coffee from instrumental headspace data" (link). What I gather is that essentially the machine can produce a tasting note for espresso. The technical article was published in Analytical Chemistry, and can be read here.

I wonder whether the technology has potential application for wine...


And your post reminded me of the back page of the June 2008 issue of Wired magazine.
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Re: Is the end of the wine critic as we know them here?

Postby Daniel Rogov » Tue Aug 05, 2008 6:34 am

Somehow I am not overly concerned over the future of wine critics or the palates and judgement of those who buy and drink wine for pleasure.

These "gizmos" are nothing more than a refinement (a welcome one I admit because they take up far less physical space and cost far less) to existing laboratory equipment that can analyze a wine in depth - a necessary function for wineries as well as for governmental agencies. I have no doubt whatever that if these machines are well made they will be able to identify the variety of grape used in a wine of a single variety. I doubt very much though that they will be able to identify the different grapes in a multi-varietal wine or to identify the year of the vintage with any sense of accuracy.

Something akin to MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) which may be able to tell how your brain is reacting to various stimuli but cannot possibly tell what you are thinking.

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Re: Is the end of the wine critic as we know them here?

Postby Daniel Rogov » Tue Aug 05, 2008 11:13 am

Courtesy of Dr. Yuri Rosenberg of the Wolfson Applied Materials Research Centre, The Faculty of Exact Sciences and the Faculty of Engineering at Tel Aviv University, I just received a full copy of the original report of this new product. If the attachment proves unreadable and anyone is interested, please drop me an email to drogov@cheerful.com and I will forward on the original email with its attachment.

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Re: Is the end of the wine critic as we know them here?

Postby Michael Greenberg » Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:00 pm

Well I don't know if Robo Wine Critic can ever be trusted to score wines-but it will do a great service to acurately get the tN description right..nothing drives me battier than having allegedly knowledgebale critics describe the aromas and flavours of the very same wine and vintage completely differently...Maybe we all have different taste buds--but if Robo Wine Critic can chemically analyze the aromas and flaours so that consumers can better rely on what they should smell and taste-then this willbe a worthwhile improvement to the wine scene.
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Re: Is the end of the wine critic as we know them here?

Postby Daniel Rogov » Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:18 pm

As always I do, I admit to a huge lack of technical knowledge when it comes to computers but if I am not mistaken it will take one or more human beings to program this gadget with its repertoire of flavors and aromas. Thus, unless each unit has exactly the same programming there will develop disagreements and arguments between the computers.

I can hardly wait for the first of these machines to start blogging its tasting notes. I can even project into the future and see the headlines: E. Robert Parker versus "The Tongue". And then of course a follow up film.....perhaps Brad Pitt as Parker and HAL as "The Tongue".

Oy.....Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papart, where are you now that we need you?

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Re: Is the end of the wine critic as we know them here?

Postby Gary J » Tue Aug 05, 2008 7:25 pm

Michael Greenberg wrote:-but if Robo Wine Critic can chemically analyze the aromas and flaours so that consumers can better rely on what they should smell and taste-then this will be a worthwhile improvement to the wine scene.


Very interesting thought.

Rogov - maybe you can clarify something, but this SHOULD be possible if I am properly informed.

I had heard that red wine is said to have thousands of chemical compounds in it. It is these compounds that things like cassis, berries, etc. have in common with certain wines and from these common compounds comes the similar/same aromas.

If this is accurate/true, then maybe what Michael is suggesting above can be a reality?????
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Re: Is the end of the wine critic as we know them here?

Postby Matilda L » Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:45 am

Thing is, people only partly read the writings of wine critics for the information. A large component of why people read wine critics is enjoyment of the opinions, and the way the piece is written. There are a couple of wine writers I read regularly in the local press, largely for their turn of phrase. Have they invented a machine yet that can come up with a quirky, erudite column that conveys as much about human nature and interest in human culture as it does about the objective features of a wine?

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Re: Is the end of the wine critic as we know them here?

Postby Gary J » Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:02 am

Matilda L wrote:Thing is, people only partly read the writings of wine critics for the information. A large component of why people read wine critics is enjoyment of the opinions, and the way the piece is written. There are a couple of wine writers I read regularly in the local press, largely for their turn of phrase.


I wholeheartedly agree Matilda. Very well put!
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Re: Is the end of the wine critic as we know them here?

Postby Daniel Rogov » Wed Aug 06, 2008 4:51 am

Gary J wrote:
Michael Greenberg wrote:... I had heard that red wine is said to have thousands of chemical compounds in it. It is these compounds that things like cassis, berries, etc. have in common with certain wines and from these common compounds comes the similar/same aromas. If this is accurate/true, then maybe what Michael is suggesting above can be a reality?????


Michael, Hi....

Indeed true and indeed a possible reality. I must ask however, would such an analysis have much more charm than comparing the overtones of a symphony with those of a helicopter passiver overhead?

Just one critic's opinion of course...

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Re: Is the end of the wine critic as we know them here?

Postby Daniel Rogov » Wed Aug 06, 2008 12:16 pm

Life is indeed sometimes just a bowl of cherries. I have received an invitation to visit the laboratory at which research continues on this project. For sure next time I am in Spain I shall do so.

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Re: Is the end of the wine critic as we know them here?

Postby Michael Greenberg » Wed Aug 06, 2008 6:08 pm

Well in response to Matilda's comments,it is not without reason to expect robots to be able to one day create intelligent commentary -simply a matter of logic and programming and processing speed...Already they have NOW robots that can "emote" based on their discerning voice inflections in how someone talks to them ...treat them harshly as a slavemaster and one day they may be programmed to build up resentment--then look out!

But if they can create alleged emotions (to our human discernment) already today,them why not create other things that may be easier--like a well=written TN? T the extent Robots can "learn" --then somebody can program them to select proper sentence structure,phrases,aporpos descriptive words that best match a particular olfactory or taste paradigm based on their chemical analysis program--it simply is a matter of programming and match up the analyses into flowery descriptive terms that SHOULD entice consumers to buy the wine they are describing...

Thus for now if we rely on a wine critic's assessment AND get enticed by his/her description of a wine only to be disappointed on actual tasting that is it no where as good or completely off in the description od smells and flavours--then we succum to gullibility in having purchased that wine based on the "spin" for it by that critic...On the other hand it could be more dagerous to rely on the Robo critic-because we trust its chemical anaylsis will translate into proper descriptive terms-HOWEVER if it also gets programmed to "spin" in order to oversell a product-then we can be as gullible fropm trusting robots too... I guess we need to know how "independent" a robo wine critic is--ie. WHO is sponsoring it: i) a wine producer? ii) a wine retailer? An independent nespaper ?--but in that case how do we know it wasnot "paid off" in advertising kick-back for a good review? Presumably it would be easy to program robo critic for the result wanted..whereas we trust the "reputation" of human wine critics who get published in prestigious newspapers and magazines (that is--at least until they get caight in any scandal). Thus the trust robots or trust humans issue has several dimensions to consider before resolving the debate.

The great idea in science fiction is that one-day roboits will take over ALL WORK,and that humand will frolic in free leisure time ...the problem of course occurs one robots figure out they are slaves and start demanding equal rights to humans...At the continued processing speed and miniturization improvements and the comoing age of nanotech --we can predict such "intelligent robots " to start hitting the market by the 2020's and certainly to be in wide use by the 2030's--I'd give it 2 more decades till about 2050 before the robos start to realize we are enslaving them and THEN the rebellion will start..

OF course robos willbe labour too..so I guess the rabbis willbe in a pickle as to whether a product entirely handled by robots is Kosher or not? When robots can be "converted" and demand to pray to God--then I guess why not? I can hear the rabbinic debate now: Since they can't eat treif they can't be said to contaminate a product to unkosherness--but since they are not Jews either--albeit neither any other religion or even aganostic or atheist--then maybe they still are"goys" anyway? Yet what if they realize there is a God as some of their human masters say and want to behave like humans in worshipping GOd? Well they can intone paryers --but on theother hand since they are not paid,they cannot give charity-so they can never be full jews--and they can't procreate so that too--except Jews without kids are still Jews too--ok-- what if the shut down work on Shabbat? In that sense they are more turned OFFthan any jew could be and they are at 100% "rest"! And the yeshiva debates on this topic willgo onn and on till some rabbinate rules on it..

Of course in the non-Kosher world ,none of this will matter..

IF we can program them to learn and they can become "sentient" can they get a conscience and a soul too? Very interesting questions--read the works of futurist RAY KURZWEIL on this intriguing subject. YEt if we program them to become sentient,are WE not Creator GODS?
We shall then have to treat our creations far better than the God of the Holy Scriptures has done for its creatures...Should we allow a Holocaust of 6 million murdered robots and still expect the remaining robots who thought we were worthy of praise as Gods to continue to be worshipped? Surely there is some standard by which the creation is entitled to judge its Creator as no longer worthy of worship if the Creator goofs up in stupidity ? Thus if we as GOds over robots become too stupid to deal with them correctly,then they will abandon us or kill us dead.

All this philosophizing is making me thirsty ...Its August--a nice refereshing Riesling to take mymind off such esoteric musings...
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Re: Is the end of the wine critic as we know them here?

Postby Daniel Rogov » Thu Aug 07, 2008 2:21 pm

A hearty endorsement for Michael's suggestion about reading Ray Kurzweil. Kurzweil is more than a mere "futurist". As the first to develop systems of optical character recognition, text-to-speech synthesis and speech recognition programs, he is also a very serious engineer, scientist and entrepreneur. In addition to having collected some 15 or so honorary doctorates he has made a fortune selling his patents and inventions to the like of Xerox, IBM, and Microsoft. He has also authored some 15 books.

On a non-technical but thoroughly intelligent level, two of those books The Age of Intelligent Machines and The Age of Spiritual Machines give a fascinating, perhaps somewhat frightening, perhaps somewhat comforting look into what the not-all-that distant future may hold for us. Most definitely worth reading.

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