Scientists have figured out a way to understand the facial expressions of sheep using artificial intelligence, which they hope will help improve the welfare of sheep and other animals.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge developed a machine-learning technique to estimate the severity of a sheep’s pain using the Sheep Pain Facial Expression Scale (SPFES)—a tool used to assess pain based on facial expressions of the sheep.
The work built on earlier research into teaching computers to recognize human emotions and expressions.
“There’s been much more study over the years with people,” said Professor Peter Robinson, who led the research. “But a lot of the earlier work on the faces of animals was actually done by Darwin, who argued that all humans and many animals show emotion through remarkably similar behaviours, so we thought there would likely be crossover between animals and our work in human faces.”