Everyone is always talking about how the digital revolution is transforming human lives, but what about its impact on animals? 

With recent advances in technology, such as the rise of AI and IoT (‘Internet of Things’ refers to the network of interconnected devices embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies that enable them to collect and exchange data over the internet, for example, Alexa, Amazon Echo, Smart TVs or wifi-connected home security systems), we are seeing significant improvements in the treatment of animals. For those who are invested in animal liberation, this could mean several wins, including a potential lead to ending the exploitation of animals for food, research, labour and beyond.

As these technologies continue to improve and advance, there is vast potential for progress, which could have a significant impact on animals. Below, we will address some of the progress that is already being made and how it is impacting the lives of animals. 

1. Animal Labour

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Animal labour is problematic because these labourers can’t give their consent. Additionally, they’re often subjected to poor working conditions. The film industry is one example. Since the beginning, Hollywood has relied on animal actors, and these actors are often involved in dangerous stunts and scenes depicting violence. For example, Dr. Ernie Ward points out that a German Shepherd nearly drowned in the filming of “A Dog’s Purpose,” prompting conscientious objectors to avoid the movie.

Today, thanks to computer-generated imagery (CGI), movies can have realistic portrayals of animals without endangering them. “I believe using CGI animals in movies could lead to more empathy, concern, and protections for real-life animals,” says Dr. Ward. CGI allows films to depict animals having emotional responses that are difficult to evoke in real ones unless they’re placed in distressing or abusive situations.

2. Animal Testing

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Smart technologies are making waves in the pharmaceutical industry. According to the Humane Society, robotics, computer models, 3D bioprinted organoids, and other cutting-edge technologies are starting to be used in place of testing on live animals. Not only does this mean good news in the fight toward ending animal testing, but these technologies are also more accurate and effective at predicting how people will respond to drugs compared to traditional animal testing methods. 

3. Animal Monitoring 

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The battle against poaching and the illegal trade of exotic animals has long been plagued by inefficiency. It’s hard to stop poachers and criminals when you can’t see the act in progress. Now, cloud video enables law enforcement to monitor at-risk animals in real time, including endangered species under protection in conservation areas. Cameras upload footage immediately to the cloud, where security personnel can keep tabs. 

Security teams can also use AI to analyse footage for suspicious activity and provide alerts. Thermal imaging provides another advancement, whereby AI can identify endangered and at-risk animals through heat signatures. Moreover, cameras don’t have to be stationary — they can be mounted on drones or planes that sweep areas, providing coverage of massive land areas. These advancements also allow the monitoring of animals to be less invasive, causing less distress to animals by minimising the necessity for humans to infiltrate their habitats.   

4. “Bee-Less” Honey

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A new company called MeliBio is also using advanced technologies to make honey without exploiting bees. Commercial honey production places a lot of stress on bees and the environment, but with “bee-less” honey, we can reduce that stress and restore bee biodiversity. 

5. Climate Change

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Climate change has a significant impact on animal health. Research shows that changes in temperature, precipitation, and the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events will have a negative effect on animal health. Heat stress alone from rising temperatures can cause immune suppression, metabolic disruptions, and oxidative stress in animals. While this all seems like bad news, there is hope. Emerging smart technologies like AI are helping to solve climate change

AI technology has numerous applications to reduce emissions and improve sustainability, including urban planning, weather forecasting, disaster analysis, resource management, and agricultural planning. While not all of these things directly impact animals, they do help mitigate the negative effects of climate change, which can help improve conditions for animals.

The intersection of technology and animal liberation presents a promising advancement in the fight for the ethical treatment of animals. The technologies available in the digital age we live in are reshaping how we interact with and protect the animal kingdom. Innovations like “bee-less” honey demonstrate the potential to revolutionise industries currently reliant on animal exploitation. AI’s role in combatting climate change highlights the potential environmental benefits of technology, ultimately aiming to create a more sustainable world for all. While some of the above applications of smart technologies are still in the early stages, the progress already being made suggests a brighter future for animals. As these technologies continue to evolve, they offer significant opportunities to assist us in eradicating the exploitation of animals globally, aligning with the broader goals of animal liberation.

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Ainsley Lawrence
Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer who lives in the Northwest region of the United States. She has a particular interest in covering topics related to technology and sustainability. When not writing, her free time is spent reading and researching to learn more about her cultural and environmental surroundings.