John Carmack Is Shifting Roles at Oculus to Focus on Artificial Intelligence

One of the founding fathers of id Software and Doom, John Carmack has been with virtual reality company Oculus since 2013. But today, Carmack announced his position within the company was changing, and he’s taking a step back from both his current position and the world of VR.

In a Facebook post today, Carmack announced he would be moving from CTO to a “consulting CTO” position at Oculus, where he says he’ll still have a voice in development but consume less of his time. And instead of VR, it looks like Carmack is focusing on A.I., or A.G.I. as he calls it-artificial general intelligence.

“When I think back over everything I have done across games, aerospace, and VR, I have always felt that I had at least a vague ‘line of sight’ to the solutions, even if they were unconventional or unproven,” Carmack writes. “I have sometimes wondered how I would fare with a problem where the solution really isn’t in sight. I decided that I should give it a try before I get too old.”

Carmack says he’ll be researching this from home, drafting his son into the project as well.

Though Carmack was a fairly high-profile recruitment for a then-budding Oculus when he first joined, that came with a fair bit of controversy. ZeniMax levied a suit against Oculus in 2014, alleging that Oculus had stolen trade secrets to create its Rift headset and accusing Carmack of taking in-development VR tech to Oculus.

ZeniMax was later awarded $500 million, though it seems it was due to Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey failing to comply with a non-disclosure agreement. Luckey would later leave Oculus and Facebook in 2017.

Though it went through rough waters then, it seems like Oculus has hit its stride with the Quest, a fairly impressive, wireless VR headset that strikes a middle ground between boutique headsets and strapping a phone to your face. What Oculus, and Carmack, could be getting up to in the A.I. space is anyone’s guess-maybe developing more super-gamer A.I. bots-but it’ll be interesting to see.

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