Zuckerberg ditches annual challenges to improve 2030

Mark Zuckerberg wont be spending 2020 focused on wearing ties, learning Mandarin, or just fixing Facebook. Rather than having year-to-year challenges, Ive tried to think about what I hope the world and my life will look in 2030 he wrote today on Facebook. As you might have guessed, though, Zuckerbergs vision for an improved planet involves a lot more of Facebooks family of apps.
His biggest proclamations in todays notes include that:

VR Better virtual reality technology could address the housing crisis by letting people work from anywhere Facebook is building Oculus

AR Phones will remain the primary computing platform for most of the decade by augmented reality could get devices out from between us so we can be present together Facebook is building AR glasses

Privacy The internet has created a global community where people find it hard to establish themselves as unique, so smaller online groups could make people feel special again Facebook is building more private groups and messaging options

Regulation That the big questions facing technology are too thorny for private companies to address by themselves, and governments must step in around elections, content moderation, data portability, and privacy Facebook is trying to self-regulate on these and everywhere else to deter overly onerous lawmaking

Zuckerberg ditches annual challenges to improve 2030

These are all reasonable predictions and suggestions. However, Zuckerbergs post does little to address how the broadening of Facebooks services in the 2010s also contributed to a lot of the problems he presents.

Gentrification Facebooks shuttled employees have driven up rents in cities around the world, especially the Bay Area

Isolation Constant passive feed scrolling on Facebook and Instagram has created a way to seem like youre being social without having true back-and-forther interaction with friends

Envy Facebooks algorithms can make anyone without a glamorous, Instagram-worthy life look less important, while hackers can steal accounts and its moderation systems can accidentally suspend profiles with little recourse for most users

Negligence The growth-first mentality led Facebooks policies and safety to lag behind its impact, creating the kind of democracy, content, anti-competition, and privacy questions its now asking the government to answer for it

Noticibly absent from Zuckerbergs post are some of Facebooks more controversial products and initiatives. He writes about decentralizing opportunity by giving small businesses commerce tools, but never mentions cryptocurrency, blockchain, or Libra. He also largely leaves out Portal, Facebooks smart screen that could help distant families stay closer, but that some see as a surveillance and data collection tool.
Im glad Zuckerberg is taking his role as a public figure and the steward of one of humanitys fundamental utilities more seriously. His willingness to even think about some of these long-term issues instead of just quarterly-profits is important. Optimism is necessary to create what doesnt exist.
Still, if Zuckerberg wants 2030 to look better for the world, and for the world to look more kindly on Facebook, he may need to hire more skeptics and cynics that see a dystopic future instead. Their foresight on where societal problems could arise from Facebooks products could help temper Zuckerbergs team of idealists to create a company that balances the potential of the future with the risks to the present.
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