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Oculus founder Palmer Luckey wants to build a virtual border wall

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey is working on a plan to use AI and VR to spot those attempting to cross the border between the United States and Mexico. Mexico isnt going to pay for it. Luckeys company, Andruil Industries — which refers to the magical sword used by Aragorn in Lord of the Rings — has reportedly set up three tech-filled towers on a Texas ranch near our southern border. The goal is to identify moving objects — both people and animals — from up to two miles away. Once detected, the system would then relay information to a VR headset or television. The hope is that Andruil could one day sell the technology to the Department of Homeland Security who, presumably, would use it in place of, or perhaps as a compliment to, President Trumps proposed border wall. US Customs and Border Patrol told Wired that the technology has, so far, helped to identify 55 people crossing the border over a 10 week span. Luckey, who sold Oculus to Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion left the social network last year. After kick-starting the current VR craze by building one of the first consumer-grade headsets in a garage (or maybe not) Luckey was ousted from Facebook after a crazy year that saw the 25-year-old lose a pricy intellectual property lawsuit before being outed as a member of a pro-Trump troll factory known as Nimble America. The Daily Beast, which broke the story, alleges Luckey funded the organization best known for anti-Clinton, pro-Trump memes and propaganda. In funding news that should surprise no one, the companys biggest backer is another vocal Trump supporter, Peter Thiel. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey is starting a virtual border-wall companyon MIT Technology Review

Palmer Luckey chases government contracts with 'virtual wall'

His company's technology has already led to dozens of arrests. When you hear talk of a border wall, you typically picture an actual, physical construction. But that's not the case for Palmer Luckey. 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. "We were intrigued by that." Over the course of 10 weeks, the Lattice technology stationed on the Texas ranch helped lead to the arrest of 55 people. During the first 12 days of the ongoing test outside of San Diego, Lattice was used to capture 10 people. Anduril's engineers used open source data to train a machine learning system how to differentiate objects like animals, automobiles, tumbleweeds and humans. Now, when Lattice's sensors spot anything moving nearby, it can say what that object most likely is and by what percentage it's sure. Anduril's technology is already controversial, but its backers are no stranger to that. Along with Luckey -- who left Facebook after he became embroiled in controversy following reports that he donated money to and allegedly wrote Reddit posts for a racist, alt-right group -- Anduril's co-founders include former executives of Peter Thiel's secretive data-mining company Palantir. The company's lead investor is Thiel's VC firm Founders Fund. Lattice comes as DHS and the Trump administration continue to pursue harsh and controversial immigration policies and at a time when other companies' employees have pushed back against decisions to sign government contracts. Google recently announced it wouldn't renew its Pentagon contract after thousands of its staff signed a petition against the deal and over a dozen resigned because of it. When asked if the company would ever build systems that killed people, Anduril CEO Brian Schimpf told Wired, "We're really focused on the intelligence and surveillance piece right now," but added, "I wouldn't say that's a line we're drawing."