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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Wants a Connected World

By Daniel B. Kline - Apr 13, 2016 at 10:30AM

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The technology leader made it very clear that he believes the world needs to be brought together, which puts him at odds with the Republican front-runner for president.

While he never actually said the man's name, it was very clear whom Facebook (FB -0.49%) CEO Mark Zuckerberg was talking about during his keynote address at Facebook's F8 developers conference.

In a speech that promised to walk through a road map for his company's next 10 years, the CEO pointed out that during the next decade, he expected all the power of the Internet to be available to the whole world, not just the third of it who have access now. He also said that virtual/augmented reality would emerge as the next computing platform and that artificial intelligence will power "all kinds of different services with better than human-level perception."

Zuckerberg gave an impassioned speech. Image source: Facebook.

Zuckerberg called Facebook's mission "bringing people together," and he lashed out at "fearful voices" talking about "building walls, distancing people they view as others."

It was a bold political statement from the CEO who has been openly opposed to Republican front-runner Donald Trump in the past, writing passionately against the candidate's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. In his F8 speech, Zuckerberg didn't specifically identify Trump, but he passionately spoke of the idea of using technology to tear down walls, not build them.

What did Zuckerberg say?
"As I look around and I travel around the world, I'm starting to see people and nations turning inward, against this idea of a connected world and a global community," he said.

Zuckerberg explained that he believes the technology community has a responsibility to push back against those fearmongering messages and must possess the courage to "bring people together, not push them apart." He made it clear that he and Facebook embraced that role:

If the world starts to turn inward, then our community will just have to work even harder to bring people together. That's why I think the work we are all doing is so important. We can actually give people a voice. Instead of building walls, we can help people build bridges. Instead of dividing people, we can help bring people together.

Zuckerberg specifically said that Facebook was for bringing all people together, connecting every person, and giving them a voice. He said this "mission" goes beyond borders.

"We've gone from a world of isolated communities to one global community, and we're all better off for it," he said.

The 10-year plan
While Zuckerberg devoted a lot of his speech to the idea of bringing people together, he did go through his company''s 10-year plan. He said the first problem that needs to be solved is that about two-thirds of the world lacks Internet access. He said Facebook will be working on technology such as drones, satellites, and laser communications systems that can bring more people online.

The CEO also shared that his company would be committed to the idea of sharing anything with anyone. He defined "anything" as being beyond just the photos and simple videos people share now on his platform. He spoke about immersive experiences and being able to capture moments in new ways, such as 360 video.

"We're always trying to get closer to this purest form of capturing an idea or an experience," he said.

For the "anyone" part, he talked about how Facebook's family of apps, which includes What's App, Messenger, Instagram, and more, would develop to allow people to control how they communicate.

"Sometimes we want to talk to just one friend. Sometimes we want to hang out with a few friends. Sometimes we have something that we want to share with all our friends, with all our co-workers, or with an entire community like marathon runners or Golden State Warriors fans," he explained. "And sometimes we want to share something with the whole world."

Making that possible in exactly the way each person wants to share is part of the Facebook 10-year mission.

"This is the goal," he said. "Give everyone the power to share anything they want with anyone."

A screen shot of how Facebook sees its next 10 years. Image source: Facebook.

He really believes in virtual reality
A key component of Zuckerberg's speech was his belief that immersive virtual reality will be a major part of the company's offering within 10 years. To drive that point home, he presented every person in the audience with a Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) phone and a Gear VR headset, which has technology provided by Faceook's Oculus brand.

He explained how he thinks the emerging technology will change how people interact with pretty much everything.

"When we get to this world," he said, speaking of virtual/augmented reality, "is a lot of things that we think about as physical objects today, like a TV for displaying an image, will actually be a $1 app in the AR app store."

Of course, he also said that "it's going to take a long time to make this work, but this the vision, this is what we're trying to get to over the next 10 years."

A plea for us to come together
While Zuckerberg closed the show by handing out free Samsung gear, the overriding theme of the day was not Facebook's business or its partners. The message kept coming back to the idea of connecting people, even in the odd way that folks can connect with a Samsung headset strapped on.

"It takes courage to choose hope over fear, to say that we can build something and make it better than it has ever been before," he said. "You have to be optimistic to think that you can change the world ... [I]t's this hope and this optimism that is behind every important step forward."

Zuckerberg said he believed that problems such as curing diseases and solving climate change would only be solved if people across the world work together.

"I hope that we have the courage to see that the path forward is to bring people together, not push people apart, to connect more, not less," he said.

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