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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

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        Last Updated on August 29, 2018

        5 Killer Online Journal Tools That Make Journaling Easier and More Fun

        5 Killer Online Journal Tools That Make Journaling Easier and More Fun

        Journaling is one of the most useful personal development tools around. Not only does it help us process emotions and experiences, work through internal conflicts and improve our self-awareness, it also provides us with a way to keep a day-to-day record of our lives. Traditionally an activity limited to pen and paper, the expansion of consumer technology has enabled journaling to go digital.

        Saving your journaling entries online enables you to access them from anywhere, without having to carry a notebook and pen around, and provides you with digital features, like tagging and search functions.

        Here are a list of five online journaling tools you can use to bring your practice into the modern age:

        1. 750words

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        750 words

          750words is a free online journaling tool created by Buster Benson. The site is based on the idea of “Morning Pages”; a journaling tool Julia Cameron suggests in her creativity course The Artist’s Way. Cameron advises aspiring creatives to start each morning with three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing to clear away the mental clutter, leaving you with a clearer mind to face the day.

          750 words is the three-page digital equivalent (assuming the average person writes 250 words per page) and lets you store all your journaling online. Each morning, you’ll receive a prompt asking you to write your 750 words, and the site keeps track of various statistics associated with your entries. The site uses a Regressive Imagery Dictionary to calculate the emotional content from your posts and provides feedback on features like your mood, and most commonly used words.

          750 words is simple to set up and is ideal for anyone who finds it challenging to maintain a consistent journaling practice. The site uses a number of incentives to motivate users, including animal badges awarded to journalers who complete a certain number of days in a row, leader boards, and opt-in monthly challenges.

          2. Ohlife

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          ohlife

            Ohlife is designed to make online journaling as easy as possible. Once you’ve signed up for your free account, the website will send you an email each day asking “How did your day go?” Simply reply to the email with as much or as little detail as you like, and your response will be stored on your account, ready to view next time you log in.

            Ohlife’s appeal lies in its simplicity: no stats, no social sharing, no complicated organisational systems—the site is designed to provide you with a private, online space. Simply respond to the email each day (or skip the days you’re busy) and Ohlife will do the rest.

            3. Oneword

            oneword

              OneWord is a fun online tool that provides you with a single word as a prompt and gives you sixty seconds to write about it. The concept’s aim is to help writers learn how to flow, and the prompts range from the everyday mundane to the profound.

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              Oneword is not a private journaling tool: if you sign up, your answers will be published on the site’s daily blog, which contains a stream of users’ answers, and might be used by Oneword in the future. If you’d rather keep your answers to yourself, you can still use the tool for fun without giving out any personal details.

              4. Penzu

                Penzu is a journaling tool that allows you to store your journaling notes online. The service also offers mobile apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry, so you can journal on the go and save your notes to your account. The basic service is free, however you can upgrade to Penzu Pro and get access to additional features, including military-grade encryption and the ability to save and sync data through your mobile, for $19 per year.

                With either version of Penzu, you can insert pictures, and add tags and comments to entries, as well as search for older entries. You can set your posts to be private and viewable by you only, or share them with others.

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                5. Evernote

                Evernote isn’t a purpose-built journaling tool, however its features make it perfect for keeping your journaling notes in one safe place. With the ability to keep separate “notebooks”, tag your entries, include pictures, audio and web clipping, Evernote will appeal to journalers who want to include more formats than just text in their entries.

                Available online within a web browser, and as a stand-alone desktop app, the service also comes with a series of mobile apps covering almost every device available. These allow you to make notes on the go and sync between the mobile and browser versions of the app.

                For additional features, including text recognition and the ability to collaborate on Notebooks, you can upgrade to Evernote’s premium service, which costs $5 per month.

                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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