Future of Computing & Food Manifesto

Last 31st May 2018, I co-organized, and took part in, an event on the “Future of Computing & Food” (part of the International Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces 2018) in Castiglione della Pescaia, Italy. Here, a group of academics, practitioners, a Chef, and local food producers gathered and kick-started the co-creation of a Manifesto on the Future of Computing & Food. Below, I present the key points of the manifesto (click here for full access to the output document).


Castiglione della Pescaia, Italy.

Manifesto on the Future of Computing & Food

I. Educate people about the impact of ‘what they eat’ on their own health and wellbeing
II. Promote the sense of communal participation and its importance to food
III. Optimize food equality by reducing food waste and increasing access to nutritious food
IV. Help people in recognising the basic sensory, hedonic, and social functions of foods
V. Provide just-in-time feedback on purchase, storage and consumption of food
VI. Foster the relevance of personal, social, and cultural experiences related to food
VII. Enable data-driven (real-time, large scale) informed food policy decision making
VIII. Avoid one-fits-all solutions that undermine personal freedom of choice
IX. Ensure total transparency on the origin and heritage of food
X. Celebrate each actor in the food system (farmer to Chef) to create a sustainable system


Shape descriptors for taste

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘sharp’ applied first to touch, then subsequently to taste (ca. 1000), visual shape (1340), and hearing (1390)” (Marks, 1978, p. 190; see also Williams, 1976). It would seem possible that the use of the term ‘sharp’ to describe a taste or flavour attribute actually reflects an implicit association between shape and taste/flavour quality (e.g., Velasco, Woods, Marks, Cheok, & Spence, 2016).


Note, however, that the way in which descriptors in one sensory modality apply to another sensory modality, may vary as a function of language (e.g., Shayan, Ozturk, Bowerman, & Majid, 2014; Shayan, Ozturk, & Sicoli, 2011). For example, Fenko, Otten, and Schifferstein (2010) have pointed to the fact that the word ‘sharp’ in Russian (острый) has a stronger association with gustation than with touch, whilst in English and Dutch, the words ‘sharp’ and ‘scherp’, respectively, have a stronger association with touch than with gustation.

Nevertheless, recent research has demonstrated that people do indeed match tastes (tastants and taste words) with shape aesthetic features such as curvature and symmetry of visual shapes. Those associations have been demonstrated in crossmodal matching tasks (Salgado-Montejo et al., 2015; Velasco, Woods, Deroy, & Spence, 2015) and have also been shown to give rise to crossmodal congruency effects (Velasco et al., 2016).



Fenko, A., Otten, J. J., & Schifferstein, H. N. (2010). Describing product experience in different languages: The role of sensory modalities. Journal of Pragmatics, 42, 3314-3327.

Marks, L. E. (1978). The unity of the senses: Interrelations among the modalities. New York, NY: Academic Press.

Salgado-Montejo, A., Alvarado, J. A., Velasco, C., Salgado, C. J., Hasse, K., & Spence, C. (2015). The sweetest thing: The influence of angularity, symmetry, and the number of elements on shape-valence and shape-taste matches. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1382.

Shayan, S., Ozturk, O., Bowerman, M., & Majid, A. (2014). Spatial metaphor in language can promote the development of cross-modal mappings in children. Developmental Science, 17, 636-643.

Shayan, S., Ozturk, O., & Sicoli, M. A. (2011). The thickness of pitch: Crossmodal metaphors in Farsi, Turkish, and Zapotec. The Senses and Society, 6, 96-105.

Velasco, C., Woods, A. T., Deroy, O., & Spence, C. (2015). Hedonic mediation of the crossmodal correspondence between taste and shape. Food Quality and Preference, 41, 151-158.

Velasco, C., Woods, A. T., Marks, L. E., Cheok, A. D., & Spence, C. (2016). The semantic basis of taste-shape associations. PeerJ, 4:e1644.