The beer in the barrels can be developed according to your taste, because robots pick up your comments on social media for use in inovation work. PHOTO: JON-ARE BERG-JACOBSEN © NOFIMA

Project Year 2017

Ideas via artificial intelligence

 Innovation, consumer and sensory sciences  

When you comment on posts in Facebook forums, you may also unwittingly be contributing to innovation.

This is artificial intelligence in practice.

Social media are already used to harvest good ideas, but manually this is very time-consuming. Kasper Christensen, who wrote his doctoral thesis at Nofima as part of the strategic research programme InnoFood, wanted to find out whether artificial intelligence can do the job just as well. He developed a method to teach a robot to identify ideas in comments fields on social media, which can potentially become an important tool for innovation.

“The goal is more targeted product development. Hunting down the next major innovation is very expensive. Many new products fail, primarily because companies have not learnt to identify the best ideas from the start,” says Christensen.

Beer used for method testing

Beer is a topic that engages many people, also on social media, making it ideal to test whether a robot can be taught to identify good ideas.

Two experts helped Christensen catalogue 200 ideas about beer. The ideas were selected by the robot, and the experts judged how good they were in terms of novelty, commercial potential and feasibility. Both beer experts were impressed by the quality of the data selected by the robot.

Systematic and intelligent

For the huge volumes of data in online forums to be useful, they must be managed systematically and intelligently.

“This is where AI comes in. I have taught a robot to identify ideas in comments by constantly feeding it new facts, so that it learns and becomes smarter. This is possible because people use specific words and phrases when talking about ideas. And it is these that the robot learns to recognise,” says Christensen.

However, what constitutes a good idea is quite subjective and can vary from company to company and person to person and needs validation with the consumer.


The Foundation for Research Levy on Agricultural Products (FFL)

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