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Will Chickens Be Really Happy After Being Given Virtual Free Range?

Will Chickens Be Really Happy After Being Given Virtual Free Range?

Austin Stewart is an assistant professor at Iowa State University and a virtual reality enthusiast. He recently delivered a presentation on an extremely silly idea that manages nonetheless to propose some real questions that are worth answering. He outlined his fictional business Second Livestock (a play on the name of the virtual reality sim game Second Life) as a provider of Oculus Rift-like headsets for farm animals such as chickens so that they can enjoy virtual free range, which allows them to get the sense of movement and interaction in virtual reality even when they’re confined in small spaces. He goes into great detail on the “official” Second Livestock website, which outlines the process and the potential impact it can have on farm animals and the world at large. It’s really fascinating stuff, and a ton of work to put into something that most likely isn’t actually going to be implemented in the real world. Check out the full PDF of the presentation notes.

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virtual reality

    By using a headset, a wall TV display and a yoga ball trackpad, Stewart demonstrated to people in Iowa and Ohio (including a number of farmers) how virtual free range would work for the farm animals. The chickens would be able to enjoy the sense of motion, waving grass, a free trees and even some virtual reality chickens to pal around with in the digital realm. Participants had the opportunity to try out the chicken simulation themselves and were very impressed by it if still confused about its true implications. One of participants asked how the chickens would feel about having no real, tangible interactions. That brought up what’s basically the whole point of the Second Livestock fictional company: to think about how virtual free range would affect simple farm animals and how that would relate to the experiences humans will have as they become more and more entrenched in a virtual reality world.

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    trying it on

      Like the chickens Stewart spoke about and demonstrated in his presentation, we are also trapped in fairly tiny spaces (small apartments, cubicles, etc.) and try to get the feeling that we have more freedom than our boxed-in worlds lead us to believe most of the time. With that in mind, is virtual free range the next technological step forward for our species, or does it have the potential for harmful or even disastrous implications? Even though the idea of supplying thousands of chickens with virtual reality headsets is silly, that’s what Austin Stewart wanted to play a part in figuring out the ultimate answer to that question. Nothing has screamed that virtual free range is a danger yet, but it’s still very early on.

      enclosed

        No chicken has actually worn an Oculus Rift headset (to the best of my knowledge, at least) but Stewart said he’d consider taking his fictional business a step further by using some as real live test subjects. Again, the point wouldn’t be to actually make a company out of improving the well-being of farm animals (though that wouldn’t be a bad thing) but to further study how virtual free range works on a lower species in order to find out its possibilities and risks for people like us. We’re probably a long way off from answering questions like those with any real certainty. After all, most of us have never even worn a headset in which we can enjoy virtual free range. But the time when most of the world will have tried on an Oculus Rift headset is fast approaching, and the more research that can be done to figure out virtual reality’s effects outside of on science fiction shows will only give us a better understanding of our future.

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        Matt OKeefe

        Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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        Last Updated on May 14, 2019

        8 Replacements for Google Notebook

        8 Replacements for Google Notebook

        Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

        1. Zoho Notebook
          If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
        2. Evernote
          The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
        3. Net Notes
          If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
        4. i-Lighter
          You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
        5. Clipmarks
          For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
        6. UberNote
          If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
        7. iLeonardo
          iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
        8. Zotero
          Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

        I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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        In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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