It's no secret that Palmer Luckey's Anduril Industries has been developing a "virtual wall" to heighten national security -- he's been at it for the better part of three years. That work (for better or worse) has finally paid off. According to a new report from the Washington Post, the Trump administration awarded Anduril a lucrative five-year contract to erect hundreds of AI-powered surveillance towers along the U.S.-Mexico border by 2022. "These towers give agents in the field a significant leg up against the criminal networks that facilitate illegal cross-border activity," said Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott in a statement released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Anduril's hardware almost looks like it belongs in orbit, rather than sitting amid desert scrub.
Palmer Luckey, the virtual reality pioneer, left Facebook in 2017, six months after it was discovered that he had secretly funded a pro-Trump campaign group dedicated to influencing the US election through "shitposting" and "meme magic". The 25-year-old Oculus founder now has a new venture, Anduril Industries, this time supporting Trump's immigration policies directly through the creation of a surveillance system designed to detect unauthorised crossings of the Mexican border. Anduril Industries is one of a growing number of companies playing on the fear of "bad hombres" to cash in on government contracts for hi-tech virtual alternatives to physical wall. From drones and sensors to AI-powered facial recognition and human presence detection, these surveillance systems promise cheaper border control but at what cost to civil liberties? "These systems are reflective of advances in sensor and analytics technologies that are going to have serious repercussions for Americans' privacy," said Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the ACLU.
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.
When you hear talk of a border wall, you typically picture an actual, physical construction. The Oculus co-founder and his startup Anduril Industries have been working on a virtual wall -- one complete with cameras, sensors and VR -- with the aim of scoring a US defense contract and providing border security at a fraction of the cost of a physical wall. Luckey discussed plans for this technology last year, but now it's being tested, both officially and unofficially, and it's catching the eye of US officials. Wired reports that Anduril has constructed a prototype of its Lattice system on a ranch in Texas and is also conducting a government-funded test of its technology outside of San Diego. "They said they could provide broader border security for a lower cost," Melissa Ho, managing director of Silicon Valley's Department of Homeland Security office, told Wired.
Facebook's former virtual reality head is leading a new Silicon Valley startup that has won a contract to support the Pentagon's controversial'Project Maven' program, according to The Intercept. The startup, called Anduril Industries, is led by Palmer Luckey, the 26-year-old founder of Facebook's virtual reality unit Oculus. Project Maven, which seeks to incorporate AI technology on the battlefield, first attracted the attention of Google, but the firm later backed out of its contract after worldwide upheaval from its employees. Palmer Luckey (pictured), Facebook's former virtual reality head, is leading a new Silicon Valley startup that has won a contract to support the Pentagon's Project Maven program Palmer Luckey hit headlines last March after being jettisoned from Oculus, the VR company he helped found and sold to Facebook. In September 2016, it emerged that he secretly funded a pro-Donald Trump group that mocked Hillary Clinton online, during the US presidential race.