The work he's doing in Oculus must be 10x more exiting then building the next graphics engine for the next Doom or whatever. VR will be the next paradigm shift in gaming, such as 3D was once in the 90's. He was the pioneer in 3D FPS gaming then, now he will be the pioneer along with the guys from Oculus VR in the next evolution. I expect great things to come!
Just because something is not a sentient general intelligence or something related to higher thinking, doesn't mean it's not AI. This algorithm works much of the same way we do when trying to identify visual patterns. It uses much more finesse and way less computing power than some of the previous attempts to do the same thing. To say that this is not an advancement in AI is wrong. This whole assumption that the same modules responsible for the higher level thinking needs to responsible for all the other aspects related to vision and other sensory inputs makes no sense. The same way our brain has the somatosensory cortex doing most of the input processing for us, future AI's will have auxiliary systems providing their visual, auditory and haptic processing for them. This is a technology that can and probably will be applied to robots and other autonomous systems in the near future.
If the odds were higher, then governments might start taking money off their war spending and start putting some serious money into space technology and asteroid deflection programs, which would certainly lead to a faster space colonization, asteroid mining and so on,