Zuckerberg Uses VR To Tour Flooded Puerto Rico Areas


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is a staunch believer of Artificial Intelligence, and the world has gotten a glimpse of it several times over the past few years. On Monday again, Zuckerberg demoed AR using Facebook’s new virtual reality platform, Facebook Spaces, viewing affected areas of Puerto Rico in his virtual avatar to identify spots that needed aid.

The Facebook CEO said that the company is working with the American Red Cross to aid efforts in the affected areas using satellite imagery and artificial intelligence. 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. Also, these satellite images would tell the condition of the infrastructure in the affected areas.

“That’s going to help the Red Cross figure out where people are who need help,” he said.

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Using Facebook Spaces, Zuckerberg virtually visited the affected areas along with Rachel Franklin, Facebook’s head of social VR. “Rachel and I aren’t even in the same building in the physical world, but it feels like we’re in the same place and can make eye contact,” Facebook CEO said. Facebook Spaces – Facebook’s new virtual reality platform – was showcased a year ago at the Oculus Connect Conference.

Later, Zuckerberg, along with Franklin, went to the Moon. Both also went to Zuckerberg’s living room to see the Zuckerberg’s dog – Beast. Zuckerberg’s cartoon avatar looked quite tiny in front of the dog in the living room. “It’s from the perspective where we’re tiny and Beast is huge,” Zuckerberg said.

The Puerto Rico locations that Zuckerberg chose for showcasing Facebook Spaces capabilities was a little bizarre. Not just the grinning Zuckerberg cartoon, but also a high-five moment between Franklin and Zuckerberg with dull scenes around was awkward.  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 Menlo Park, California-based company has donated $1.5 million for Puerto Rico relief through the World Food Program and Net Hope. Besides that, Facebook has sent employees to assist in restoring the connectivity of the place, notes Mashable.

The Facebook CEO noted that Internet connectivity is crucial for people caught in the middle of such situations so that they can convey messages with their loved ones. Further, stressing the importance of the Internet, he said that relief workers should be able to coordinate to find out the spot where people are looking for help.

Facebook, which has been trying to expand its AI division, recently sent its Artificial Intelligence bot, CherryPi, in a StarCraft tournament. According to Wired, Facebook is following other companies’ footsteps, who have used Blizzard’s strategy game to show their AI capability. Facebook’s CherryPi grabbed a sixth spot out of 28 participants. Also, Facebook is not the only tech company who believes that the StarCraft platform could help boost their Artificial Intelligence development. Just last year, Google entered the arena deploying its DeepMind AI to play the game sequel StarCraft II.