BRIGHTON, UK – CAT STUDY: This is an unusual experiment concerning an unusual group of cats. A glimpse into the future. Three cats: a father whose name is Ghostbuster and his two offspring, Pumpkin and Clover live together for part of the day in a magical wonderland for cats measuring 11′ x 15′ x 10′. It’s been specially constructed to be a definitively enriched cat world. It’s the sort of thing that Jackson Galaxy, the American cat behaviourist would want to see manufactured and it’s on steroids! I’ve never seen anything quite like it. It’s a very intense cat world with a plethora of sensory experiences.
The cats spend six hours a day for 12 days in the capsule. It is managed by an artificial intelligence computer the hardware of which sits in the middle of the capsule. It provides food and games. In all there are about 60 different games and 36 different toys which the AI computer arm offers to the cats. Utopia! The objective: to increase their happiness.
Outside the capsule is a control center. The AI computer suggests the games and the controllers have overall control over those suggestions.
The cats are watched by experts including a cat behaviourist. I guess the cat behaviourist is there to assess their behaviour and to help the AI computer make them happier. The objective it seems is to manage AI in a way that is beneficial to cats and people.
I’m very pleased to see a project to make cats happier. They’ve tried to create a unique feline utopia. It is like bringing together all the things we know about an indoor environment which improves the lives of domestic cats and putting them all in a compact capsule.
The capsule is in Brighton, UK and the project is called Cat Royale. The installation was built by Blast Theory, an award-winning group of artists founded in 1991 according to the report by Newsweek.
Overall, they are working on how artificial intelligence can be directed to benefit humans and companion animals. That’s my interpretation. I think that’s a valuable objective because, after all, artificial intelligence can work against humanity if we’re not careful.
What I like about the capsule is that it is perhaps the ultimate form of environmental enrichment for domestic cats and could offer cat owners (with the resources) a target to go for if they really wanted to maximise their cats’ happiness. Of course, it’s an indoor world which focuses on all the individual aspects of cat mental stimulation but in a safe environment. I have seen something similar in America where a home owner modified his home extensively to benefit his many cats.
Perhaps it is an image of things to come in a hundred years’ time?
This is their statement about Cat Royale:
“We started working on Cat Royale to explore what it might mean when AI comes into our homes and affects us and our loved ones. All three artists have pets and we’re curious what cats might make of an autonomous system. How much can we really know about what our pets are thinking? How do we know that they are happy?”
A further interesting aspect of this happiness trial for cats is that the feline threesome is composed of a father and his two offspring. That is unusual. Within the natural environment, male cats mate with a female and then often disappears while the mother raises her young. Although sometimes, rarely, domestic cat fathers do get involved in raising their young.
But this is a happy little family both between father and siblings and between siblings. There is no guarantee that this can happen as sibling sometimes fall out when they become adults. They must have been carefully selected.
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