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Can technology put an end to overflowing animal shelters?

Amid the recent maelstrom of global chaos, soul-stirring animal rescue videos offer just a moment’s respite. We are facing a paradox that should. The massive increase in social media followers they have experienced since the start of the pandemic comes with a nasty downside.

Covid restrictions have seen a sharp increase in pet ownership around the world. According to ASPCA research, his 19% of U.S. households (about 23 million households) will have a cat or dog between his March 2020 and his May 2021.

Across the Pond, PETA UK Vice Chairman Elisa Allen It describes the issue as follows: Casual pet owners often fail to consider and accommodate the enormous amount of time, attention, patience and money required to properly care for a companion animal. ”

A 2021 ASPCA study shows that 10-15% of households do not have a pandemic pet. Some reports have dismissed the figures as nothing at all, and have scathingly criticized the so-called alarmist headlines. But with 10-15% of households making up more than her 2.5 million animals, it’s nothing for nothing.

Can technology help us stop abandoning animals?

In the future, technology may help solve this problem. The duo of Susan and Lee Cummings are building what they call the Petaverse Network, an open standard for digital pets. The user can always have her virtual four-legged friend by her side throughout the metaverse. Relax on the edge of your browser screen during the day and interact via an augmented reality (AR) headset at night.

Speaking via Zoom from his home in Wales, Lee said: Digital pets offer the same visual and emotional benefits as physical animals, including less loneliness and improved mental health. AR tricks the brain, so it provides a close enough alternative, but without drawbacks such as high running costs. ”

Susan envisions demons in his Dark Materials world of some kind of magic, such as dragons, owls, and even unicorns, but reveals that she and Lee are thinking long-term. Possession, a resilient pet that can survive anything, unlike a real animal, we don’t want another Nintendogs — 24 million people bought it, but no one is playing it anymore. Imagine if your digital pet could stand the test of time. ”

Nintendogs, Nintendo’s real-time pet simulation, is an interesting reference. Upon its release in 2005, the game received critical acclaim. One reason is that it has helped prepare people to have live animals. It’s a bit like the creepy robot babies that schools let students care for. Lee believes Petaverse Networks’ hairy creation can accomplish the same thing, but with more credibility. “What if this was like training wheels? What if before you got a pet, you had to first prove that you could take care of a virtual animal and understand its needs?”

PETA’s Elisa Allen seems to be on the same page. “Having a virtual companion animal is an option for people who are curious about animals but are not ready for the realistic, lifelong responsibility of welcoming a live animal into their home. A plush toy is definitely a good choice.”

In Elisa’s opinion, digital pets are just the latest innovation to prove that we’re starting to understand that animals deserve more respect. Another example is her CGI skills. “It is often used in place of live animals during filming, relieving the stress of transporting animals to the movie set, as well as the noise and bright lights. It shows that the exploitation of animals in general is not only unacceptable, but completely avoidable.”

Agriculture is next, with farmers adopting a wide range of new technologies for animal welfare. These include remote monitoring devices to monitor livestock health. Automated dairy equipment for convenient milking of dairy cows. A feeding system to ensure that animals have access to a mixture and quantity of food that meets their needs. But smart farming is a divisive space.

Will Digital Pets Replace Real Animals?

Given this seemingly harmless transition to digital pets, a big question arises. What about companion animals? In other words, could algorithms one day completely replace the loyal inhabitants of our carpets (and sofas, if you’re allowed to)?

Mr. and Mrs. Cumming did not imagine this event. Instead, they foresee a place on this planet for both real and virtual creatures. But the pair hope to put an end to the “horrible breeding” that seems set to torment cats and dogs endlessly, unless those who paid them realize the error of their ways. I’m here.

This unethical practice has even raised Elisa’s hackles. “If people stop buying animals from breeders and pet stores, they won’t see mother dogs kept in filthy conditions on puppy farms, causing breathing difficulties and putting them at risk of disease.”

The concept of a lifelike virtual pet sounds more utopian than dystopian. Perhaps that’s why Susan, surrounded by her prints, describes her company’s vision as “a very white mirror, like a TV series, but in a good way.” is. Many people, especially tech heads, support this idea with a belly fire. But with millions of animals still in need of a home, perhaps a trip to a local rescue center is a more timely solution.