Our reporter’s spouse takes on the AI program in a battle to find the fastest way to his heart through his stomach.

It’s the custom for girls to give gifts of chocolate to guys for Valentine’s Day in Japan. So with February 14 fast approaching, our Japanese-language writer Yuichiro Wasai can expect some sweets from his loving wife soon.

However, recently Yuichiro has been hearing about how AI is supposed to be replacing all human thought soon, as data-scraping algorithms produce better decisions more quickly than our feeble human minds can. Curious to see if this was true, he decided to pit AI program ChatGPT against his own wife in a contest to see which of them could do a better job of selecting Valentine’s Day chocolate for him.

To get the ball rolling, Yuichiro posed a question to ChatGPT.

“If I tell you my preferences, can you tell me a kind of chocolate I’d like?”

The AI immediately answered back with:

“Of course! In order to find a chocolate you’ll like, can you tell me what kind of flavors and textures you like?”

Yuichiro responded by saying that more so than Japanese brands of chocolate with subdued sweetness levels, he likes the more pronounced sweetness of European and American chocolate brands. However, he wasn’t looking for a sticky, chewy sort of chocolate like a Snickers bar. Instead, he was hoping for a classy chocolate. He also let the AI know that since he likes to sip on coffee while enjoying his sweets, it was important that the chocolate go well with black coffee. Finally, as far as flavored chocolates go, his favorite variety is pistachio.

Even with all that, ChatGPT still had a number of candidates, so to really narrow things down Yuichiro added that his budget was 3,000 yen (US$20) and that he wanted to be able to buy the chocolate somewhere near downtown Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood. Once all those factors were taken into consideration, the AI had a singular suggestion for him.

“I recommend La Maison du Chocolat. This store offers high-quality chocolate, and they have a wide variety of flavored chocolate. There is a high probability that they have pistachio chocolate, and an elegant feeling, so I think it will be easy for you to find chocolate you like at this shop.”

▼ Even La Maison du Chocolat’s bag is fancy.

Yuichiro then gave the same set of preferences and parameters to his wife, and asked her to select some chocolate for him while he went out to pick up ChatGPT’s selection, since the AI isn’t capable of doing that part for him. He also gave his wife 3,000 yen, since saying “Hey, honey, I’m having you compete against an AI program, so go buy me some chocolates, and pay for them out of your own pocket” is a pretty good way to make sure your spouse ends up feeding you chocolates filled with poison instead of pistachio.

While his wife headed to parts unknown for her shopping, Yuichiro hopped on the train for Shinjuku to pick up his La Maison du Chocolat treat. Though ChatGPT hadn’t specified an exact product for him, between his budget and pistachio craving, there was really only one candidate.

This single bar of chocolate, all by itself, cost a whopping 2,646 yen, putting it in another stratum from his usual chocolate indulgences. Still, it definitely looked classy, and Yuichiro could imagine a lot of people being thrilled to receive such a premium present for Valentine’s Day. And it wasn’t just the status-symbol-like luxury that made it enjoyable. Taking a bite, Yuichiro was very pleased with the flavor, and he had no complaints.

So what did his wife bring back for him?

A decidedly less rarified assortment. A selection of Lindor chocolates from Swiss chocolatier Lindt was the only concession to Yuichiro’s professed preference for non-Japanese chocolates, as they were accompanied by a bag of Cacao Truffle Pistachio from Japanese lifestyle store Mujirushi and some almond chocolate from Japanese candymaker Meiji.

▼ Some of the Lindors, the ones in the green wrappers, were pistachio flavored, too.

Curious to how she’d arrive at these choices, Yuichiro asked his wife to walk him through her thought process.

“I knew that the worst thing I could do would be to blow the whole budget on some kind of expensive chocolate. Why? Because when it comes to sweets, you’re really more of a quantity-over-quality kind of guy.”

She had him there.

“So I definitely wasn’t going to go to someplace like Godiva, where just a few pieces would use up the entire 3,000 yen. My first stop was the Lindt store, since they let you pick out individual flavors one at a time. I know you said you like pistachio, but I know it’s not the only flavor you like, so I added in a few others too.”

Wow, she’d really put a lot of thought into this.

“After going to Lindt, I still had money left over, so next I went to Mujirushi and got the Cacao Truffle Pistachio, since I was 100-percent sure you’d like the texture and flavor.”

OK, but what about the completely ordinary run-of-the-mill, and decidedly not Western-sweets-level sweet, Meiji almond chocolate, which you can buy at any supermarket in Japan?

“I know you said you prefer chocolate from countries other than Japan, but after having all those extra-sweet ones, a little mild Japanese chocolate will taste really good too. Plus, the packaging says something about this being ‘making your body happy’ because it’s healthy somehow, so I thought you’d like that, right?”

It is true that Yuichiro has been making an effort to take better care of his body over the past few years.

“Yeah, I know that it might not give off much of a ‘Valentine’s!’ kind of feeling, but I really think this assortment is what’s going to make you the most satisfied.”

And you know what?

She was exactly right.

The mix of chocolates Yuichiro’s wife had picked out was one hit after another with his taste buds, including the milder Meiji chocolate, even though that had been the exact opposite of what Yuichiro himself had initially asked for. Sure, the chocolate Chat GPT had picked out had been great, checking all the boxes on the checklist he’d provided the AI program with. His wife, though, could incorporate not only what Yuichiro had told her directly, but all the other knowledge she has of him as a person, including the things he wasn’t mentioning at that particular moment, as well as her own personal experiences of eating chocolate.

So while the AI did an impressive job of getting to know Yuichiro, based on information he’d supplied it with, in a short amount of time, in the end the winner of this contest is his wife, since when it comes to sweets, it looks like she knows him even better than he knows himself.

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