Can virtual reality save young Black people from a deadly reality? Palmer Luckey hopes so.

Residents of Ferguson, MO., who have been protesting the killing of teenager Mike Brown by a police officer Darren Wilson for almost two weeks, have a new and unlikely ally: Palmer Luckey.*

Ferguson, Mo. residents protesting the police shooting of unarmed Mike Brown. - courtesy of NBC News
Ferguson, Mo. residents protesting the police shooting of unarmed Mike Brown. – courtesy of NBC News

The 21 year-old inventor of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is offering to outfit the Ferguson police department with special versions of the crowd funded device. White police officers can wear the headsets as they go about their policing business, but instead of seeing the people around them as they are, they will see and hear old white people.

According to a statement released by Oculus Rift, which was bought by Facebook in March for $2 billion,  making white police officers see elderly white people, “is intended to intercede on what many blame for the ongoing killing of young Black men by the police in the United States: implicit and explicit racial bias.”

Palmer Luckey, the creator of the Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming headset, at his workshop in Irvine, Calif.- courtesy of the Dallas Morning News.
Palmer Luckey, the creator of the Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming headset, at his workshop in Irvine, Calif.- courtesy of the Dallas Morning News.

The statement continued, “According to recent research in race perceptions and bias, elderly white people trigger the least amount of bias in younger white police officers– the intended users of the headsets. By removing the trigger of bias and the accompanied perceived threat, the headset creates a situation where police officers can respond to actual circumstances, such as assessing whether a suspect is actually carrying a weapon and/or behaving in a threatening manor.”

Continue reading “Can virtual reality save young Black people from a deadly reality? Palmer Luckey hopes so.”

Advertisements