It’s like the real life Matrix… except with chickens
Austin Stewart has created the Second Livestock project, which essentially puts mini Oculus Rift headsets on chickens and lets the poor little fuckers believe they’re roaming a grassy wonderland whilst actually they’re trapped in a lightless metal barn being shit on by other chickens. To put not too fine a point on it, this is Chicken Run crossed with The Matrix.
Or it would be if it actually existed, which thankfully it doesn’t yet. No clucky Morpheus for the time being. The project is currently just a thought experiment to explore the way we lean on tech to solve problems that have much simpler solutions. The very convincing website outlines how “Virtual Free Range™ gives livestock the experience of Free Range life while in the safe confines of our facility.” Which is just as well. Imagine you think you’re in a lovely sunny field with all your chicken friends (you also need to imagine you’re a chicken for this to work) but actually you’re in a barn that is being infiltrated Fantastic Mr Fox style, then BAM you’re dead. If you die in The Matrix, you die in real life remember? No different for chickens. Bummer.
The chicken farms of the future/of Austin Stewart’s imagination are basically large tower complexes in cities, from the farmer’s perspective they’d be a bit like multi-story car parks for the production of cheap eggs and meat. But for the chicken it’s like sky high penthouse living. They would be built to the highest possible specifications, thus: “All electronic systems are built using the most efficient components available. Heat generated by the animals and machinery is put to use to heat or cool the building as needed.”
Of course, the implication is that all of this is pretty pointless because you could, I don’t know, just buy a field and stick your chickens in that.