There’s been a lot of hype around virtual reality over the past few years, starting with the Oculus Rift and taking off from there. VR startups are a dime a dozen, and most of them don’t stand out– VR video games, VR movies, VR sports, whatever, just put “virtual reality” in front of literally any activity and there’s a bunch of dudes in Silicon Valley who have already dropped out of Harvard to make it happen.
Over the weekend, a project from a few years back really caught our eyes. It’s called Second Livestock, a spin on that game you all used to play called Second Life, except it’s a little different: The only players are chickens. Literally, like, living breathing clucking and cockadoodledooing chickens. They get to put on little helmets and walk on a treadmill all day, pretending they are outside, freerange chickens when they’re really confined to a very small space. The idea is to raise their standard of living without actually using more space to raise them as livestocks.
Check out Second Livestock’s mission statement: “Animal Husbandry has entered the Digital Age. Second Livestock rethinks the agricultural experience from the ground up leading to gains for the producer, consumer, and livestock.” Every word is out of the tech company branding playbook. From now on I’m only buying eggs labeled “Hormone-Free and Virtually-Free.”
Does it sound a little tongue-in-cheek? It totally is. The creator of the project, Austin Stewart, was assistant professor at Iowa State in 2014 when he came up with the idea. As he said in an interview with Vox, “We live in boxes, just like the chickens we eat.” Sounds like someone has been watching the Matrix. Peck the blue pill, and you live your life until you become a chicken nugget. Peck the red pill, and he’ll show you how long this chicken run really lasts.