[Virtually] Free-range Chicken
Why can’t you eat soup in the Matrix? Because there is no spoon.
Dumb joke, I know, but I have another one for you. What do you call a free-range chicken that is mass produced? Caged.
Welcome to the matrix… for chickens. With the popular consumer demand for free-range chicken, but not enough space for all those chickens, what do you do? Like the modern society we are, we turn to technology to solve the problem.
The latest and greatest invention for caged free range chickens, virtual reality. It might seem far fetched, but that is exactly what one scientist is suggesting. Austin Stewart, an assistant professor at Iowa State University, has developed a project called Second Livestock, which is looking at developing Oculus Rift headsets for chickens in captivity. Enter the Cock-ulus Rift.
The theory is that the Oculus Rift-style headgear would trick ordinary chickens on farms into believing they’re roaming limitless virtual land and therefore give them a free-range life. The Second Livestock system could be used with other farm animals to artificially make their treatment more humane.
Now it should probably be noted it is a joke, the idea meant to start conversation about the welfare of animals and how we treat them. Of course he is also the first to admit that if anyone wants to take him up on the idea, he would be willing to move forward.
‘I think we need to carefully evaluate whether this direction is a good direction to go for our species,’ he said.
‘It’s not so much that virtual reality is lacking humanity as it’s creating these really safe environments where we’re not actually exposed to anything harmful, which I don’t think would actually be really good for us.’
Of course you never know when someone might think that this is a viable idea. Sadly, it is a very viable idea given the relative low cost of technology, the high demand for free-range chicken, and the lack of space needed for the large amounts of chicken consumed.
Innovative, yes. Evil, not really, more neutral than anything else. Who knows, it could be a commonplace thing someday. The ultimate question is, if the chicken fully thinks it is free range, then is there any harm really done?
Want to check out Second Livestock? Well they have a [fake] website set up that gives more information about the device, you can find that — here!