Facial recognition for pigs: Is it helping Chinese farmers or hurting the poorest?

The Guardian > Technology 

Like humans, pigs have idiosyncratic faces, and new players in the Chinese pork market are taking notice, experimenting with increasingly sophisticated versions of facial recognition software for pigs. China is the world's largest exporter of pork, and is set to increase production next year by 9%. As the nation's pork farms grow in scale, more farmers are turning to AI systems like facial recognition technology – known as FRT – to continuously monitor, identify, and even feed their herds. This automated style of farming has the potential to be safer, cheaper and generally more effective: In 2018, pig farmers in China's Guangxi province trialling FRT found that it slashed costs, cut down on breeding time, and improved welfare outcomes for the pigs themselves. But it also has the potential to leave behind independent, small-scale farmers, who cannot afford to introduce this kind of technology to their operations.

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