When this article about cows wearing VR headsets popped up in my news feed I had to do some research to see if it was legit. The photo alone made this appear like a hoax or even an article from The Onion, however a quick search shows that it’s being reported by a series of reputable sites in addition to the BCC including:
The first question I had after reading the article title was “what do cows watch in Virtual Reality?” The articles all explain that the program shows sunny summer pastures to help decrease the animal’s anxiety so that it can produce more, and better quality milk. I rather wish they had a sample image or video as I’m really curious what exactly this looks like.
It appears as if the idea is working. It will be interesting to see the full study and all it’s data, however the articles themselves ask a few questions about possible technical problems such as, “how often do you need to charge the headsets?” and “does removing the headset upset or disturb the animal?” and “how does the animal adjust back to reality?”
The Engadget article makes another good point, humans are using technology to solve a problem of our own creation — the huge global demand for beef and animal products means we have to get creative to meet it. We pile animals into all sorts of places with “not great” conditions only to feed the human population. I suppose parts of Russia where this study is being done do have the issue that the stark landscape is not exactly “calming” by the classic definition, and maybe cows don’t care for it either.
Question: Is the future of farming using technology to enhance our animals? Or perhaps instead it is doing away with the animal (and the suffering) entirely with lab grown meats as in this recent article here? Still maybe the Beyond and Impossible companies that make meat-like substitutes out of plants are where we are headed. One thing is for certain, if something doesn’t change the world is headed to a future where we will not be able to meet the global demand for animal meat and byproducts. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out.