Scientists are working on facial recognition technology for pigs. If successful, it might provide clues about what makes them happy

Researchers in England are working on facial recognition technology that scans animals’ faces to interpret their emotions, Vox’s “Future Perfect” reports. They’re particularly interested in pigs raised on factory farms: If the cameras can alert farmworkers to stressed-out animals, the logic goes, employees in charge of thousands of animals can more easily identify those that are injured or sick. Similar technology is being developed in China, where retail giant Alibaba is working on hog voice-recognition software to detect animals in pain. Further in the future, Vox reports, AI may even be able to detect happiness in the animals—a “holy grail” for animal rights advocates and pig farmers alike. Of course, happiness is relative and facial expressions can be deceptive, but it turns out pigs really do smile.

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