How much would you pay for organic, virtual free-range chicken breasts? It doesn't really matter, you can't buy such a thing. But Austin Stewart, an assistant professor at Iowa State University, really seems to like the idea. He's been traveling the country showing off Second Livestock, a concept that takes cooped-up poultry and grants them the gift of being free-range through virtual reality headsets and an omni-directional treadmill. The truth is, despite Stewart's stone-faced presentations, that Second Livestock is not a real thing, and it likely never will be. But it is meant to showcase just how much we rely on technology to solve our myriad problems and how it impacts our own lives.
Obviously we don't have the space or resources to allow every chicken in the country to be free range, but we're not always entirely comfortable with the cramped filthy conditions our future meals are raised in. Thus was born this virtual environment where chickens can roam free, at least in their minds. But the project is as much about human relationships as it is about chickens. We spend our days isolated in cubicles glued to a computer screen -- just how different is that from a chicken coop? Well, we're not rolling around in our own feces, so that's an advantage. If you're not into feeling introspective and down right now, then just sit back and enjoy the Photoshopped image above. I mean, come on -- it's a chicken wearing a VR headset!