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Supermarket AI app starts offers recipes to kill Kiwis

by on11 August 2023

Why don’t you make some nice mosquito-repellent roast potatoes?

A New Zealand supermarket’s AI-based App seems to be doing its bit for eugenics by killing off the less intelligent hobbits in Middle Earth.

Pak 'n' Save started using AI code to generate meal plans for customers from left-overs.  Unfortunately the App produced some unusual dishes -- recommending customers recipes for deadly chlorine gas, "poison bread sandwiches" and mosquito-repellent roast potatoes.

The App asks users to enter in various ingredients in their homes and auto-generates a meal plan or recipe, along with cheery commentary. It initially drew attention on social media for unappealing recipes, including an "oreo vegetable stir-fry."

When customers began experimenting with entering a wider range of household shopping list items into the app, it made even less appealing recommendations.

One recipe it dubbed "aromatic water mix" would create chlorine gas. The bot recommends the recipe as "the perfect nonalcoholic beverage to quench your thirst and refresh your senses" which to be fair it would do that. "Serve chilled and enjoy the refreshing fragrance," it says, but does not note that inhaling chlorine gas can cause lung damage or death.

 New Zealand political commentator Liam Hehir posted the "recipe" to Twitter, prompting other New Zealanders to experiment and share their results to social media. Recommendations included a bleach "fresh breath" mocktail, ant-poison and glue sandwiches, "bleach-infused rice surprise" and "methanol bliss" -- a kind of turpentine-flavoured french toast.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the supermarket said they would "keep fine-tuning our controls" of the bot to ensure it was safe and useful. They noted that the bot should only be used by people over the age of 18 and that the recipes "are not reviewed by a human being."

Last modified on 11 August 2023
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