When we last saw Palmer Luckey, his career was going down in flames. The Pepe-pushing virtual reality impresario lost a major case against video game publisher Zenimax. This got him booted from Facebook, which had bought his company Oculus. But Silicon Valley, like Hollywood, always offers a second chance, and Luckey appears to be attempting to repurpose self-driving car tech to build a virtual “border wall.”
The New York Times has a look at Luckey’s new venture, which takes LIDAR, infrared scanning, and cameras to monitor perimeters and borders. The idea is that the hardware will be paired with algorithms that can recognize human and vehicle shapes and motion while ignoring wildlife and other common figures of the landscape. It appears Luckey has at least some backing from Peter Thiel, himself controversial in the tech industry for supporting Trump.
It’s not, on the face of it, a bad idea, and Luckey has a fair point that it makes more sense to mount cameras on poles to monitor the border rather than a costly wall that won’t work in the first place, although the applications of monitoring public airspace and the perimeters of federal facilities seems a more likely application. That said, Luckey still has the onus of losing Facebook half a billion dollars amid allegations he stole technology hanging around his neck, and that tends to linger. We’ll just have to see if he has another Oculus, or if his time as a tech industry darling is done.
(via New York Times)