Mark Zuckerberg’s New Year’s resolution? ‘Discuss the future of technology’

Facebook chief executive and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg wants to talk about the future of technology; he said his personal challenge for 2019 is to host a series of public discussions about “the opportunities, the challenges, the hopes, and the anxieties.”

In the past few years Zuckerberg has set himself a series of challenges, including building an artificial intelligence system for his home, visiting every US state, reading 25 books, and learning Mandarin.

Last year, he focussed on “addressing important issues around elections, speech, privacy, and well-being. Facebook is a different company now than it was a couple of years ago because of a much greater focus on these questions. These issues are complex and we will continue focusing on them for years to come.”

This year, however, he plans to host a series of debates “about the future, the trade-offs we face, and where we want to go”.

In a Facebook post today Zuckerberg writes: “There are so many big questions about the world we want to live in and technology’s place in it. Do we want technology to keep giving more people a voice, or will traditional gatekeepers control what ideas can be expressed? Should we de-centralise authority through encryption or other means to put more power in people’s hands?

“In a world where many physical communities are weakening, what role can the internet play in strengthening our social fabric? How do we build an internet that helps people come together to address the world’s biggest problems that require global-scale collaboration?

“How do we build technology that creates more jobs rather than just building AI to automate things people do? What form will this all take now that the smartphone is mature? And how do we keep up the pace of scientific and technological progress across fields?”

He added: “This will be intellectually interesting, but there’s a personal challenge for me here too. I’m an engineer, and I used to just build out my ideas and hope they’d mostly speak for themselves. But given the importance of what we do, that doesn’t cut it anymore.

“So I’m going to put myself out there more than I’ve been comfortable with and engage more in some of these debates about the future, the trade-offs we face, and where we want to go.”