Technology

Zuckerberg taps VR to detail relief efforts in Puerto Rico

Zuckerberg taps VR to detail relief efforts in Puerto Rico

The company intends to help the flood-hit country via NetHope and the American Red Cross.

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.

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. "We're on a bridge here", Zuckerberg said.

"One of the things that's really magical about VR is you can get the feeling you're really in a place", said Zuckerberg as his avatar floated above the scenes of abject devastation below. In the virtual reality livestream, they were animated figures.

The Puerto Rico locations that Zuckerberg chose for showcasing Facebook Spaces capabilities was a little weird.

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Facebook uses artificial intelligence to develop "population maps" to offer satellite imagery of a specific area. The live-stream saw Zuckerberg and Rachel Franklin, head of social VR at Facebook, represented as cartoon avatars in flooded areas of the U.S. territory, where citizens are still struggling to access clean water, electricity and other necessities in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Some other spots they "teleported" to included the surface of the moon and next to Zuckerberg's dog, Beast.

The demo has repeatedly been called "tone deaf", since Zuckerberg and Facebook's head of social virtual reality, Rachel Franklin, were showing their avatars smiling and high-fiving against a backdrop of flooded areas and people cleaning up debris.

The moment Zuckerberg points out that "this street is completely flooded" while in front of an image of a flooded street is also a highlight.

Facebook's CEO discussed his company's efforts to aid relief through donations and sharing data with Red Cross. It's bland, inoffensive, and set in an environment that's more suited to be shown off in Facebook Spaces - and for Zuck's, uh, unique brand of showmanship.

Despite the value of 'safety check, ' it only works if people are connected to the internet. 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.

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