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The emergence of precision livestock farming (PLF) raises important issues for many different social groups, including farmers, consumers, regulators, and the food industry. This paper explores how those who develop PLF systems can communicate more effectively with different groups about the technologies that they are creating. We suggest that developers reflect on four issues: (1) the different kinds of information that various groups might want to know; (2) the audiences that might care about these different kinds of information; (3) the major difficulties involved in providing the information; and (4) potential strategies for overcoming those difficulties.


As precision livestock farming (PLF) technologies emerge, it is important to consider their social and ethical dimensions. Reviews of PLF have highlighted the importance of considering ethical issues related to privacy, security, and welfare. However, little attention has been paid to ethical issues related to transparency regarding these technologies. This paper proposes a framework for developing responsible transparency in the context of PLF. It examines the kinds of information that could be ethically important to disclose about these technologies, the different audiences that might care about this information, the challenges involved in achieving transparency for these audiences, and some promising strategies for addressing these challenges. For example, with respect to the information to be disclosed, efforts to foster transparency could focus on: (1) information about the goals and priorities of those developing PLF systems; (2) details about how the systems operate; (3) information about implicit values that could be embedded in the systems; and/or (4) characteristics of the machine learning algorithms often incorporated into these systems. In many cases, this information is likely to be difficult to obtain or communicate meaningfully to relevant audiences (e.g., farmers, consumers, industry, and/or regulators). Some of the potential steps for addressing these challenges include fostering collaborations between the developers and users of PLF systems, developing techniques for identifying and disclosing important forms of information, and pursuing forms of PLF that can be responsibly employed with less transparency. Given the complexity of transparency and its ethical and practical importance, a framework for developing and evaluating transparency will be an important element of ongoing PLF research.


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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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