Friday, 20 October, 2017

Mark Zuckerberg 'visits' hurricane-hit Puerto Rico in VR promo

Mark Zuckerberg Talks About Hurricanes and Puerto Rico in Virtual Reality Mark Zuckerberg livestreams VR tour of flood-hit Puerto Rico via Facebook Spaces, pledges $1.5 mn for disaster relief
Earnest Maxwell | 11 October, 2017, 00:23

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and head of social VR Rachel Rubin chose to show off one of the "really neat" features of Facebook Spaces, the company's social virtual-reality platform, and used a 360-degree video shot by NPR of the storm-ravaged nation of Puerto Rico as a backdrop for their VR hangout.

"We're looking around, and, you know, it feels like we're really here in Puerto Rico, where it's obviously a tough place to get to now and a lot of people are really suffering", Zuckerberg explained in the livestream as his avatar grinned.

They then "teleported" to Puerto Rico through a 360 video.

"We use artificial intelligence to build what we call "population maps" so you can look at satellite imagery of an area and get a sense of where it is that people actually live and the density of different places and where there's infrastrucutre going to in those places", said Zuckerberg. The live-stream saw Zuckerberg and Rachel Franklin, head of social VR at Facebook, represented as cartoon avatars in flooded areas of the United States territory, where citizens are still struggling to access clean water, electricity and other necessities in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Mark Zuckerberg in outer space.

The CEO went on to describe the ways his company had helped the island after Hurricane Maria struck, but as he did, Franklin flicked through various videos of the damaged area, eventually settling on one of a severely flooded residential area.

The company intends to help the flood-hit country via NetHope and the American Red Cross. They later visited the virtual moon, but not until a technical glitch interrupted transmissions and kicked them back into reality for a while.

Zuckerberg also noted that Facebook had already donated more than $1 million to relief efforts.

What should have been an informational Facebook Live session about the social media site's social VR tool Spaces ended up being a tone deaf display that some are calling disaster tourism.

Despite the value of 'safety check, ' it only works if people are connected to the internet. The team will help to increase coordination in relief efforts. However, Community Help feature would help to organize aid efforts in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. "That's going to help the Red Cross figure out where people are who need help".

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