The whistle of a stiff and constant wind cuts through a silence that gives no hint of the hostilities, both physical and political, that animate these borderlands. Palmer Luckey--yes, that Palmer Luckey, the 25-year-old entrepreneur who founded the virtual reality company Oculus, sold it to Facebook, and then left Facebook in a haze of political controversy--hands me a Samsung Gear VR headset. Slipping it over my eyes, I am instantly immersed in a digital world that simulates the exact view I had just been enjoying in real life. In the virtual valley below is a glowing green square with text that reads PERSON 98%. Luckey directs me to tilt my head downward, toward the box, and suddenly an image pops up over the VR rendering.
Just in case you were wondering what Palmer Luckey does with all that Facebook money, a The Daily Beast article reveals what he's been up to lately. The outlet says Luckey confirmed he is behind the Reddit pseudonym "NimbleRichMan," providing financial backing to an organization claiming it's proven that "shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real." The Reddit profile has been deleted, but the group's original announcement is archived here. Dubbed Nimble America, it's a pro-Trump organization spreading anti-Hillary Clinton memes, calling the Democratic candidate "corrupt, a warmonger, a freedom-stripper," claiming that people will only be offended because they hate Trump and can't stand to see successful people. Luckey's liaison with the organization is apparently none other than Milo Yiannopolis.
Google may have backed out of the US military's Project Maven, but that doesn't mean other tech companies are unwilling to participate. The Intercept has learned that Oculus Rift co-founder Palmer Luckey's defense company, Anduril, won a contract to support the drone AI initiative in 2018. The firm will also support the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, according to newly obtained documents. While there aren't specifics around what that contract would entail, Project Maven relies on machine learning to detect people in drone videos and provide more effective intelligence data. Anduril is most commonly known for its existing system, Lattice.
Palmer Luckey, co-founder of Oculus VR and creator of the Rift headset, is no longer with the company. Following the news that he'd donated $10,000 to a group spreading pro-Trump memes, the 24-year old had increasingly shied away from the public eye. That even went as far as skipping last October's Oculus Connect event so as not to be a "distraction" to the news coming out of the conference. "Palmer will be dearly missed. Palmer's legacy extends far beyond Oculus.