In 2018 he pledged to “fix” Facebook and now for Mark Zuckerberg’s 2019 resolution, he’s aiming to host public talks about the future of technology, Zuck, who isn’t traditionally one to be in the spotlight or to make public appearances, will meet each few weeks with leaders, experts and community members from Facebook to talk about the “opportunities, the challenges, the hopes, and the anxieties” that impact the work his company does, he explained in a Facebook post on January 8.
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 decentralize 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?
This discomfort and awkwardness is especially prominent during a year in which the CEO was forced to answer for numerous scandals that the company had to deal with. These include a series of secret documents that the United Kingdom government underhandedly and indirectly forced the company to hand over, revelations that Facebook shared user data with 52 companies, causing such a distaste for the company that people would be willing to quit the platform for $1,000.
During testimony in Congress he was repetitive and evasive, often promising to have his team answer the questions asked at a later date.
Zuckerberg has a good history of setting lofty goals at the beginning of the year to complete — beginning in 2009, when he pledged to wear a tie everyday. He learned Mandarin in 2010, turned vegetarian in 2011, relearned programming in 2012, met a new person (outside of Facebook) each day in 2013, wrote a thank-you note each day in 2014, read a book each other week for 2015, in 2016 built a simple AI system and in 2017, visited every state in the United States.
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 tradeoffs we face, and where we want to go.
Facebook and Silicon Valley in general are criticized for their growth mindset, where scaling trumps everything else. With his latest resolutions, it’s clear that Zuckerberg is looking to be challenged and deal with the issues that his own company has created in a public and open way.
However, reading into his post a bit more, Zuckerberg might not mean that some sort of introspection is what he is aiming for — to a number of questions he poses, the answer seems to be Facebook.