Fighting cultural hostility and Palmer Luckey's 'virtual borders' / by Stephanie Llamas

This is in response to news that Palmer Luckey is working with the Trump Administration to monitor the Mexico/US border for illegal crossings using infrared sensors and cameras.

I am not Mexican. Even as a Latina and an immigrant, I do not know the incredible struggles of those who try to cross our border from the south to find opportunity in our wonderful nation. But it was hard for my parents to bring me here, and I am forever grateful for how much they fought to make me an American citizen. This is the reason why I was able to get scholarships and go to college; why I am able to do something I love; why I am able to live in the best city in the world; and why who I am today. I would not be able to write this blog, or be a member of the tech industry without the opportunities that came directly from becoming a US citizen.

When I see people focus on using technology to create a divisive and unnecessarily hostile environment, I realize how far the fight is from over.

There are so many reasons the move for my family was difficult, but we were fortunate because we were together. My father didn't have to leave the family, friends and culture he loved to make a dangerous trek into the unknown. He didn't have to leave us behind and send us every dime he earned. But this is a reality for so many immigrants here who want nothing more than to find opportunity in their own country, but have no other choice. 

The biggest sense of pride I get working in the tech industry is the freedom I have to fight for inclusion and diversity. I am part of more than one underrepresented demographic, and even then have always felt empowered by the people who join me in our fight to create a safe space. So when I see people focus on using technology to create a divisive and unnecessarily hostile environment, I realize how far the fight is from over.  In fact, it's the very diversity of this country that has allowed us to be a leader in the technology space.

Immersive technology, virtual reality, AI, internet of things: all of this has the potential to literally change humanity. The power behind this tech's potential means its innovators have an enormous responsibility to keep it from being used for harm. An important concern that comes up time and time again is how this technology can be used to invade the privacy of users and how we can combat this intrusion. This responsibility is not always a legal one, or a financial one (in fact, it's often not financially ideal), but a moral one. Humans are the most intelligent species, and one of the only ones that can feel empathy. So we understand why this moral responsibility to protect people is an important one. And the way to advocate for this is by bringing as many perspectives as possible into technological development so it can be accessible to the largest group of people.

The way to advocate for diversity is by bringing as many perspectives as possible into technological development so it can be accessible to the largest group of people.

I have seen few industries as passionate and excited as the immersive and interactive tech community. It's a new and scary frontier so it is not for the light of heart, and those involved are taking a huge leap of faith. It's a beautiful community that I am so proud to be part of, and we fight for each other. The current political and social climate in the United States sometimes seems scary but this is actually a time of hope. We have the opportunity to educate and advocate for a better society, one that embraces people who fuel our economy and way of life. The immersive and interactive tech community has the privilege of being part of the most transformative media of modern history. Using it to foster a society of hate and exclusion is too easy. We can do better, and I know we will.