Animal Companionship Of The Future

A new type of animal family? Source: Nature’s Herald

Many technological advances in the last few decades have revolutionized our lives. However, we are also facing big challenges, including sustainability and animal welfare.

The same transformative advancement changing the lives of humans is placing animals in the increasingly urban, people-shaped environment. Pets are now common in Western cultures and on the rise in developing countries worldwide, and yet it is difficult to imagine how more than half of the 9.6 billion people of 2050 could still keep animals.

By using AR as the medium of choice, we at Matterless see the potential for immersive animal encounters, and the power to increase empathy towards the experiences of others. We recognize empathy is not an exclusive right of the human species.

We hope to create more awareness as the trend to increase animal rights in our shared world continues. Our moral responsibility is not to stop the future, but to shape it, and channel our destiny in a more humane direction.

In 2013, the World Wildlife Federation created an interactive AR experience to raise awareness on how global warming is threatening the Arctic Pole and the lives of polar bears.

Look at the expressions of the people in the video. They are enthralled, a smile creeping up their faces when they get to see a polar bear up close, and I’m willing to wager you and I would feel the same way.

Almost a decade has passed since this campaign was made, and some wild animal species have been driven out of the wild, and out of our imaginations. The WWF keeps a list of critically endangered and vulnerable species, with more than 130 000 needing protection, funding, and most of all, awareness of what is happening to the natural world daily.

What’s The Point Of Innovation If We’re Not Building A Better Society?

Matterless companions and their caretakers saying hi.

Science and research expand our understanding of animal cognition, and we are more and more sensitive to the social and mental needs of animals. Most importantly, the ethical issues arising from keeping highly sentient or intelligent species in captivity have changed the cultural norms about keeping them as pets. Culturally, keeping some species has become socially unacceptable.

Matterless is designing a way to address this, and other challenges like it. We are creating a shared AR experience to harness that childlike fascination with animals and creatures of the wild. We remember the sense of reverie towards nature we felt as kids.

Imagine an interactive animal companion, with the ability to learn, grow, be trained up close, and embodied in vivid detail. The sense of engagement with a digital creature like that, a commitment to care for it and keep it safe can create awareness of what animals in the real world really need — by guiding cognition and empathy.

Transformative Technologies Require Transformative Narratives

We can nurture and develop a sense of enjoyment, psychological satisfaction, and responsibility through our interactions in augmented reality. It could lead to a radical change in our relation to our fellow species — a more egalitarian and considerate attitude for life.

AI companions are not part of some distant future — they already exist. By 2025, we should expect AI-driven pets to be widely available. They will be filling our screens, smart glasses, and mixed and virtual reality spaces.

When every screen is a window to the greater world, telling us new stories to make sense of it, what new kinds of companionship might we find?

-Damir First, CCO, Matterless

About Matterless Studios

Digital life. Real connections. True Affection.

Matterless Studios is an augmented reality studio building the future of digital relationships, creating outlets for human love, nurture, and creativity. For more information visit www.matterless.com, join the Discord, or follow us on Twitter or here on Medium.

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Matterless

Matterless

Our mission is to prove to the world that digital things are real by creating genre-defining experiences in shared augmented reality. Magic is matterless.