The campaign to expose the harmful, violent, and destructive reality of the animal agriculture industry.

THE BIG QUESTION: When will we stop eating animals?

0

By the year 2100 we will see meat substitute products get cheaper, which encourages more people to convert. One reason will be the increase in cognitive dissonance for meat eaters, as they think more seriously about the potential cruelty of eating animals because it no longer seems unavoidable.

CALUM CHACE: Jacy Reese Anthis is a polymath and rising star in the fields of Effective Altruism (EA) and artificial intelligence (AI). He is a co-founder of the Sentience Institute and the author of the 2018 book “The End of Animal Farming”. EA is the project of identifying the most impactful strategies to help others, and the book grew out of EA research into the best ways to help animals. He explains his thinking on animals and AI in the latest episode of The London Futurist Podcast.

Many people think that factory farming is one of the most pressing ethical problems in today’s world. A group of people in EA started running psychology experiments and looking at historical case studies, to see how we might move away from factory farming, and the book builds on that work to provide an optimistic roadmap towards an animal-free food system…

What will get humans to stop eating animals? Will it be moral considerations, or economics? Many people think that sometime in the next two or three decades, plant-based meat substitutes and then lab-grown meat will become cheaper than meat grown on animals, as well as virtually indistinguishable to the consumer. In which case, presumably most people will switch…

Most people have seen videos exposing the appalling conditions in some factory farms, although many farmers would very reasonably protest that they treat their animals well. Most people are also at least vaguely aware of arguments that farming has environmental impacts.

One thing that is different now is food technology. Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat, the two big players in the plant-based meat industry, are getting people used to the idea that they don’t have to have animal meat as the centre of a “proper” meal. This paves the way for cell-cultured meat in the future, which can be indistinguishable, and perhaps even molecularly identical, to animal flesh…

Anthis is optimistic that animal farming will end by 2100, and to this end he divides the century into four phases. From 2000 to 2025, the main activity is resource accumulation, particularly research and development. From 2025 to 2050, he thinks we will see rapid changes as economies of scale make meat substitute products cheaper, which encourages more people to convert, so you get a virtuous spiral. One consequence of this will be increasing cognitive dissonance for meat eaters as they think more seriously about the potential cruelty of eating animals because it no longer seems unavoidable.

Between 2050 to 2075, he thinks that late adopters will catch up with the early majority due to stigmatization and social momentum. People in wealthy countries will have to go out of their way to obtain animal-harvested food. From 2075 to 2100, the industry will spread all around the world. While this timeline may seem radically short, Anthis says it will only be this slow because the existing trillion-dollar food industry infrastructure will be busy adjusting to the new reality…

He is in part optimistic because of the ability of artificial general intelligence and then superintelligence to accelerate this timeline. Overall, Anthis has a median estimate that animals will provide less than 10% of human food by 2068.

Another external factor which might accelerate the progress is fears about climate change. This is already applying moral pressure to many meat eaters, and it may cause some governments to incentivise a switch away from animal husbandry. That said, Anthis points out that there are few historical examples of this sort of directed change…

Anthis cautions that there are sceptics about the case for lab-grown meat. It may be very difficult to reproduce the immune system of animals in an in vitro setting to keep the meat safe to consume. Others question whether it will really be possible to get the cost of the component elements of lab-grown meat down to a level where it out-competes the existing process. Of course, all future technologies involve this sort of uncertainty; if we knew for sure how it would be possible, then we would probably already be there. SOURCE…

RELATED VIDEOS: