Legendary programmer and Oculus CTO John Carmack today announced he’ll be moving to a “consulting CTO” role in order to reduce his time spent at the company to a “modest slice.” This, he says, will make way for him to pursue new ventures outside of VR.
Carmack announced his move from Oculus full-time CTO to much-less-than-full-time CTO in a Facebook post today:
Starting this week, I’m moving to a “Consulting CTO” position with Oculus.
I will still have a voice in the development work, but it will only be consuming a modest slice of my time.
As for what I am going to be doing with the rest of my time: 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. 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.
I’m going to work on artificial general intelligence (AGI).
I think it is possible, enormously valuable, and that I have a non-negligible chance of making a difference there, so by a Pascal’s Mugging sort of logic, I should be working on it.
For the time being at least, I am going to be going about it “Victorian Gentleman Scientist” style, pursuing my inquiries from home, and drafting my son into the work.
Runner up for next project was cost effective nuclear fission reactors, which wouldn’t have been as suitable for that style of work. 😊
Carmack was a key player in the Oculus Rift genesis story and is a widely known and respected software engineer. Prior to Oculus, Carmack was a co-founder & Technical Director of the famous id Software and he also founded Armadillo Aerospace, a private aerospace company.
He joined Oculus as its CTO in 2013. At the time the company was a small but rising startup which got bought by Facebook for $2 billion less than a year later. Carmack has worked primarily on Oculus’ mobile products, and been a visible (if deeply technical) spokesperson for the company. Even under the Facebook mothership he’s maintained a refreshing off-script ‘call it like I see it’ sensibility that’s earned him as many fans as his deep technical credibility.
While Carmack wasn’t a founder of Oculus, he’s been a key figure both before and after the Facebook acquisition (including getting wrapped up in a court case with his prior employer over the matter). His new position, which will have him acting more as an outsider to the company, follows the departure of Nate Mitchell, the last Oculus founder to leave the company in August.