Two weeks in a row, ChatGPT botched my grocery list. I thought that I had found a really solid, practical use for AI—automating one of my least favorite Sunday chores—but the bot turned out to be pretty darn bad at it. I fed it a link to a recipe for cauliflower shawarma with a spicy sauce and asked it to compile the ingredients in a list. It forgot the pita, so I forgot the pita, and then I had to use tortillas instead. The following week, I gave it a link to a taco recipe. It forgot the tortillas.
How is AI going to revolutionize the world if it can’t even revolutionize my groceries? I vented to my colleague Derek Thompson, who’s written about the technology and its potential. He told me that he’d been using ChatGPT in almost the reverse way, by offering it cocktail ingredients he already had in his pantry and asking for drink recipes. I decided to give it a go, and soon enough I was sipping a pleasant mocktail made with jalapeño and seltzer.