In Turkey, a rancher has begun putting virtual reality headsets on some of his cattle to see if the animals produce more milk when they believe they are outside in a nice, sunny field. Early results from the experiment are positive, but the actual sight of seeing a cow living in the metaverse so it can produce more milk for humans is sad, reminds me of The Matrix, and is a strong argument against the metaverse itself.
As reported by The Sun and Turkish news outlet Anadolu Ajansi, the VR cows aka cybercows are owned by Izzet Kocak, a cattle breeder and rancher living in Aksaray, Turkey. Because the cattle are trapped indoors during severe winters, the idea was to use virtual reality to trick the cows into thinking they were actually outside. The hope: They would be happier and produce more milk.
The VR headsets were reportedly first tested in Moscow before making their way to Turkey, and were developed in coordination with vets to ensure the cows are safe. Kocak has used the VR devices on two cows so far and the results are positive, even if the actual system is very dystopian and weird. According to Kocak, the cows’ milk output has gone from 22 liters to 27 liters a day.
“They are watching a green pasture and it gives them an emotional boost,” explained Kocak. “They are less stressed.” Apparently, the results are so positive that Kocak is excited to expand his experiment and plans to buy and install 10 more headsets.
Now, I probably don’t need to point this out, but this is basically the plot of The Matrix. Living beings are strapped into a virtual world, tricked into living a “better life” while producing resources for those holding them captive in the metaverse. Does that mean one of these cows is actually The One? An inevitable anomaly? A chosen cow who will rise up,g defeat humanity, and free his bovine brothers and sisters? Probably not.
But as more and more companies and tech bros try to convince people that the metaverse is the future and not just a dumb buzzword being used to create Second Life 2, I can’t help but look at these powerless, helpless cows strapped into a VR headset with the goal of escaping the outside world’s harsh climate and think about where humanity will be in 20 years.