Mark Zuckerberg's Weird VR Demo Tour of Devastated Puerto Rico

11 October, 2017, 00:21 | Author: Alicia Barber
  • Mark Zuckerberg Talks About Hurricanes and Puerto Rico in Virtual Reality

From inside Facebook's Frank Gehry-designed headquarters in Menlo Park, California, the two made a decision to "check out this interesting 360 video", as Zuckerberg described it, of the devastation in Puerto Rico.

"We're looking around, and it feels like we're really here in Puerto Rico", Zuckerberg said.

Merging livestreaming and virtual reality together, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and its head of social virtual reality, Rachel Franklin teleported to the flood-hit Puerto Rico.

"Let's go quickly and teleport there", the video shows Zuckerberg telling his VR chief Rachel Franklin, as they both use an Oculus Rift device.

Zuckerberg also discussed Facebook's $1.5 million donation to organizations doing hurricane relief like the World Food Program as well as it sending a "connectivity team" to the island to help restore telecommunication services. "You know, it feels like we're really here in Puerto Rico, where it's obviously a tough place to get into now, and a lot of people are really suffering with the aftermath of the hurricanes".

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But in one off-key moment, after mentioning the damage left behind by the hurricane, Zuckerberg, appearing on a rubble-lined bridge, says, "One of the things that's really magical about virtual reality is you can get the feeling that you're really in a place". In the virtual reality livestream, they were animated figures. Zuckerberg stated that "population maps" have been drawn up with the help of artificial intelligence, showing the satellite imagery and the places where the individuals are living who need help. Irrespective of how weird the space avatar of Zuckerberg acted or looked in the flooded area, Facebook has been generously donating to help the affected Puerto Rico areas.

The Verge's Jacob Kastrenakes described it as a "rather unusual demo of a social platform that doesn't have a clear use yet", adding that Zuckerberg as a cartoon avatar "clearly isn't an ideal way to discuss hurricane relief efforts".

Alison Main of Mashable said "Zuckerberg sending his cartoon avatar to the ravaged streets of Puerto Rico" was a "tone-deaf misstep", and that "he capitalized on a natural disaster to promote his company's new tech".

"We've tried to do this a couple of times in the past but this is an example of how you can use AI and machine learning to help out in savings people's lives and help out in relief efforts", Zuckerberg said.

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