In a study (marvelously titled “Beer classification by means of a potentiometric electronic tongue”) published in the journal Food Chemistry, researchers in Barcelona found that an array of sensors can be used to distinguish between different types of beer with 82% accuracy. Which means it’s just one small step to robot sentience and revolution, naturally. From NPR:
The electronic tongue works by using its array of sensors to identify the chemical components in a solution, [study author Manel del Valle] says. It then cross checks what it finds with what it already knows about different beers.
The robot is best at discerning tastes it has already been trained to look for. For the purposes of their study, del Valle says, the researchers taught the tongue how to distinguish among five distinct types of beers. So when they had it taste a shandy – a drink that is traditionally a blend of beer and lemonade, ginger ale or citrus soda — the electronic tongue knew that something was different.
Electronic beer-tasting tongues. Once again, man meddles with things we were not meant to know. Soon our robot overlords, drunk on power and doppelbocks, will rise up and seize all brewing capability from our hands. We’re all doomed. Doomed!
(Thanks to Kate, who is surprisingly unfazed by the prospect of a robot uprising.)