What AI Means For Animals

Article by Peter Singer and Tse Yip Fai: “The ethics of artificial intelligence has attracted considerable attention, and for good reason. But the ethical implications of AI for billions of nonhuman animals are not often discussed. Given the severe impacts some AI systems have on huge numbers of animals, this lack of attention is deeply troubling.

As more and more AI systems are deployed, they are beginning to directly impact animals in factory farms, zoospet care and through drones that target animals. AI also has indirect impacts on animals, both good and bad — it can be used to replace some animal experiments, for example, or to decode animal “languages.” AI can also propagate speciesist biases — try searching “chicken” on any search engine and see if you get more pictures of living chickens or dead ones. While all of these impacts need ethical assessment, the area in which AI has by far the most significant impact on animals is factory farming. The use of AI in factory farms will, in the long run, increase the already huge number of animals who suffer in terrible conditions.

AI systems in factory farms can monitor animals’ body temperature, weight and growth rates and detect parasitesulcers and injuriesMachine learning models can be created to see how physical parameters relate to rates of growth, disease, mortality and — the ultimate criterion — profitability. The systems can then prescribe treatments for diseases or vary the quantity of food provided. In some cases, they can use their connected physical components to act directly on the animals, emitting sounds to interact with them — giving them electric shocks (when the grazing animal reaches the boundary of the desired area, for example), marking and tagging their bodies or catching and separating them.

You might be thinking that this would benefit the animals — that it means they will get sick less often, and when they do get sick, the problems will be quickly identified and cured, with less room for human error. But the short-term animal welfare benefits brought about by AI are, in our view, clearly outweighed by other consequences…(More)” See also: AI Ethics: The Case for Including Animals.