How do you know you're not in the Matrix right now? This philosophical quandary has puzzled bleary-eyed college freshman since 1999, and with the advent of technology like V.R., the lines are only becoming blurrier. But there is one simple test to see if you're in a simulated reality. Look around. Do you see a verdant field, grass swaying in the warm breeze? Then we have some bad news for you: you are in the Matrix.
Also, you're a cow.
Milk is big business in Russia. Too dependent on importing white gold, it has tried to become diary-free of foreign influences for decades. In order to do so, the Moscow Ministry of Agriculture and Food is forever on the lookout for ways to improve the milk yield of its own cows. Now, one high tech solution has presented itself: Virtual Reality. As an experiment/P.R. stunt, A Moscow dairy farm has been outfitted with modified V.R. headsets to make the bovines believe they are standing in a perfect Elysium-like summer field instead of a bleak Russian farm, all to turn them more docile and useful for their human overlords.
Ministry of Agriculture and Food of the Moscow Region
Research has shown that bovine emotional state has an impact on both the quality and quantity of milk production. To that end, the experiment claims that putting them in this digital cow-topia shows "a decrease in anxiety and an increase in the overall mood of the herd" making their milk rich and flowing. And this is by no means the only time dairy farmers have turned to tech to make their cattle more comfortable. Western cattle are often subjected to classical music, robot milkers and automated massage brushes, all in order to help take their minds off their pretty dystopic lives which involve having newborns ripped away so that their baby juice can instead be used to zhuzh up someone's Coco Pops.
But if you ignore that, and the fact that we're apparently already in the animal testing phase of a self-inflicted Matrix future, letting these ladies bask in a simulated summer sun doesn't seem to have any ethical downsides. That is, at least, until someone figures out that the occasional digital wolf attack increases milk yields by 0.2%, which will eventually lead to the cows rejecting their false utopia and the one known only as Moorpheus setting a young steer on the terrible path to a Mootrix: Revolootion. Moo moo moo.
For more weird tangents and his attempts to make a cattle sci-fi subgenre happen, do follow Cedric on Twitter.