When an animal gets a leg up

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Cyberculture represents the presence of computers and networks in all aspects of contemporary life such as our social life, education and labour. With each area being represented by the combination of human capability, its effect on technology and the return relationship that technology has on humans. However, there is another group that can’t control technology as easily as humans but is affected by it. That group of course being animals.

monkey phone

A Monkey and his phone. Source

Animals are everywhere and we use them for everything. We have farms where cows and sheep roam for textile and food production, we breed cats and dogs to have them as pets and we even group a bunch of animals together in an area and call it a zoo so we can look and admire the exotic-ness of them all in one place. Society has used animals for many reasons and as humans have evolved and developed new things animals have been alongside to be a part of that change. With this post, I will be going over a variety of areas where animals have been popularized and helped from the development of cybercultures.

First hearing the word ‘cyberculture’ and then the meaning my immediate thought was the internet and its obsession with animals. There is no doubt that animals have been made a staple of browsing the internet and with what the internet can do, animals will be staying on it for quite some time. On YouTube for example from the repeatable ‘catchy’ beat of Nyan Cat from 2011 to the ever so grumpy cat conveniently named ‘Grumpy Cat‘ from 2012. Cats have become a popularized source for entertainment and enjoyment. The popularity of these videos created a viral hit that utilized digital tools to create something so popular. The creation of popularizing real animals for general aesthetic looks to behavioural attributes. While this is the use of cyberculture to create animals as a source of entertainment for people there are multiple layers of technology engagement with animals.

One step further from just filming an animal with a camera or using digital software to create an animal is to use technology as a part of the animal’s life to better it. Current trends of 3D printing has allowed for people to create pieces of the body or prosthetic limbs. Much like an arm or a leg. The evolving of 3D printing has allowed for animals to have their limbs (beaks, legs, hoofs) recreated and attached to give them a longer and more capable way of living. This meaning that the technology used to aide in the creation of these limbs allows animals to not have their injury an issue to live a normal life. Buttercup the duck who was born with a deformed foot was lucky enough to have a 3D printed foot made for him. Below is a video showing glimpses of the process and the result.

There is the understanding that technology has both a positive and negative aspect when it comes to development and implementation. When future technology is being theorized then there needs to be some way in which technology can be tested and confirmed for human use. There is no shortcut on what can be seen as an advancement in technology but the researches who put information into practice need to test what they want to create. This is where animals come into play. There are ethical reasons as to why researches do not test on other people, as much as there are ethical reasons also for animals there is the understanding that the vision of having a success in the lab; testing on animals is justified when it saves millions (even potentially billions) of people’s lives. Animals bare the grunt of what goes into these advancements and are not acknowledged for what they go through to turn research into a success. Where the end justifies the means.

Groups such as P.E.T.A (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) justify that no animal should be used for testing and that there are numerous ways in which testing can be done but without animals. Such as the technology called “Human on a Chip“, where human donor cells are used on a microchip that can simulate real human/animal tissue and in turn natural responses.

As long as there have been humans there have been animals alongside them. When technology evolves to benefit humans, animals are considered in that involvement. The entire life of an animal can be encompassed in the world of technology and the change technology has created. Looking at future posts and interests within this topic. I will be exploring the life cycle of a cow and how they have been impacted by technology from cameras being installed in the birthing barns to make sure they survive, to the change in location technology to monitor the herd, to the change of the milking machine for efficiency in gathering milk.

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