Silicon Valley Outcast Tells Trump “Virtual Border Wall” Is Better, Cheaper Than Concrete

Published June 5, 2017
Published June 5, 2017

Palmer Luckey, the scorned former Facebook employee, is back on the tech scene with a new plan: a virtual border wall.

Virtual Border Wall Luckey

Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagicFounder of Oculus VR Palmer Luckey.

Palmer Freeman Luckey made his fortune at age 21, when Facebook bought Oculus, his start-up virtual reality company, for $2 billion.

But he was ostracized from the liberal tech community in 2016, when it was revealed that he had donated to organizations spreading anti-Hillary Clinton Internet memes during the presidential race.

Luckey later apologized for his actions — clarifying that he was a libertarian and would be voting for Gary Johnson — but was forced out at Facebook nonetheless.

Moving on to other projects, he become more open about his political leanings and even donated $100,000 to Donald Trump’s inauguration.

His latest start-up involves a topic near and dear to the president’s heart: keeping Mexicans out of America.

Luckey is reportedly working on a sort of virtual border wall that would focus on surveillance technology, rather than the physical barrier that Trump has repeatedly promoted.

“We are spending more than ever on defense technology, yet the pace of innovation has been slowing for decades,” Luckey wrote in an email to The New York Times. “We need a new kind of defense company, one that will save taxpayer dollars while creating superior technology to keep our troops and citizens safer.”

His new idea would focus on light detection and ranging, infrared sensors and cameras to monitor border crossings. The plan has the support of Peter Thiel, Trump’s technology adviser.

Mounted on telephone poles, Luckey claims that the system would be much more cost effective than Trump’s plan.

Like Trump, Luckey, is a big fan of military weapons. The 24-year-old’s New York home (one of several properties) is built on top of an abandoned missile silo. He also owns three helicopters and several military vehicles.

Luckey is an unabashed nerd and lives in a 78-year-old mansion in California. He enjoys cosplay, in which people dress up as their favorite comic book and video game characters.

In April, Luckey hosted a fundraiser for Texas senator Ted Cruz and in recent weeks he met with White House chief strategist Steve Bannon to discuss his new company.

The White House, however, did not provide a comment on the plan, which, if enacted, would be very different from the giant concrete wall to be paid for by Mexico that Trump promised on the campaign trail.

The president has continued to make this promise despite frightening environmental impact reports, sharp rebuttals from Mexican officials, and testimony from border agents suggesting a concrete wall is not the best way to stop illegal immigration.

But maybe Luckey will have more luck.

Next, learn how Elon Musk’s new neural lace might let you weave a computer into your brain. Then, see why most Texans oppose Trump’s border wall.