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.
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.
There is nothing virtual about Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey's support of Donald Trump. The VR millionaire is financially backing a pro-Trump organization called Nimble America that aims to circulate anti-Hillary Clinton memes across the internet, reports the The Daily Beast. And who helped Luckey create Nimble America? None other than conservative pundit Milo Yiannopoulos, recently famous for being banned from Twitter after harassing Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones online. Nimble America describe itself as a "social welfare 501(c)4 non-profit" that believes "shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real," and lists a Reddit user by the name of NimbleRichMan as the group's co-founder.