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Army of Robots to Expose Bogus Pad Thai

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It's not authentic Thai cuisine unless the robot says so.

Matt Cardy

Call it culinary diplomacy: While performing her duties as a Thai diplomat, Yingluck Shinawatra grew frustrated with the quality and authenticity of foreign dishes labeled 'Thai.' As the New York Times reports, Shinawatra pushed forward a projected called e-delicious, which is described as a "boxy contraption filled with sensors and microchips... [the] machine scans food samples to produce a chemical signature, which it measures against a standard deemed to be the authentic version."

Set to be unveiled before a group of diplomats and Thai officials on Tuesday, the machine's creators say that e-delicious can tell the difference "between a properly prepared green curry with just the right mix of Thai basil, curry paste and fresh coconut cream, and a lame imitation." The government committee that funded and directed the project claims that the robot is like an unbiased food critic, able to suss out imitation from authenticity. If e-delicious proves popular, the government may expand its fleet of robotic critics.

It's unclear, however, if the $100,000 robot will approve of popular — and ever inventive — Thai street food. One local vendor, who said he had been cooking since the age of 10, doubted the robot's ability to decipher nuances in a dish. Thaweekiat Nimmalairatana explained that even the order in which ingredients are added to a curry, for example, will greatly alter the dish's final taste. Nimmalairatana thinks that the government should scrap the robot in favor of a human taster.

Any volunteers?