Scottish Farmers Test Machine Vision to Manage Pig Pugnacity

Algorithms aided by 3D cameras predict when pigs are about to nip each other’s tails

3 min read
Photo: Arctic Images/Getty Images
Tasty Tails: In extreme tail-biting outbreaks, up to 30 percent of pigs raised together may be affected by bites so severe that their carcasses are no longer fit for human consumption.
Photo: Arctic Images/Getty Images

Pig farmers want human diners to bite into the delicious pork they produce, not for swine to bite each other. (Yes, it happens.) Now, using 3D cameras and machine-vision algorithms, scientists are developing a way to automatically detect when a pig might be about to chomp down on another pig.

Pigs have an unfortunate habit of biting one another’s tails. Infections from these bites can render up to 30 percent of a pig farm’s swine unfit for human consumption. Docking, or cutting, pig tails can reduce such biting but does not eliminate it, and the routine use of docking is banned in the European Union. There are a wide range of potential triggers for outbreaks of tail biting—among them genetics, diet, overcrowding, temperature variations, insufficient ventilation and lighting, disease, and even the season—so it’s an unpredictable problem. “Tail biting is a very frustrating challenge,” says John Deen, a veterinarian and epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota. “Controlling it has not always been that effective.”

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The Spectacular Collapse of CryptoKitties, the First Big Blockchain Game

A cautionary tale of NFTs, Ethereum, and cryptocurrency security

8 min read
Mountains and cresting waves made of cartoon cats and large green coins.
Frank Stockton

On 4 September 2018, someone known only as Rabono bought an angry cartoon cat named Dragon for 600 ether—an amount of Ethereum cryptocurrency worth about US $170,000 at the time, or $745,000 at the cryptocurrency’s value in July 2022.

It was by far the highest transaction yet for a nonfungible token (NFT), the then-new concept of a unique digital asset. And it was a headline-grabbing opportunity for CryptoKitties, the world’s first blockchain gaming hit. But the sky-high transaction obscured a more difficult truth: CryptoKitties was dying, and it had been for some time.

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