Mark Zuckerberg’s 2019 Personal Challenge Is Talking About the Future of Technology

‘Fixing these important issues’ at Facebook in 2018 didn’t go so well

Zuckerberg's discussions will focus on “the opportunities, the challenges, the hopes and the anxieties” Facebook
Headshot of David Cohen

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would probably like to see his personal challenge for 2019 turn out a wee bit better than his personal challenge for 2018 ended up.

Zuckerberg pledged in a Facebook post to hold a series of public discussions—on his Facebook or Instagram pages, or via other platforms—to discuss the future of technology in society with leaders, experts and community members in different fields.

He added that those discussions will focus on “the opportunities, the challenges, the hopes and the anxieties.”

Zuckerberg wrote, “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 (artificial intelligence) 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?”

Last January, he wrote in his personal challenge post, “The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do—whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent. My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues. We won’t prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools. If we’re successful this year, then we’ll end 2018 on a much better trajectory.”

However, 2018 turned out to be a challenging year for Facebook, to say the least. It seemed that for every step in a forward direction by the company, it took several steps backward, with a plethora of new issues emerging throughout the year.

Zuckerberg’s previous personal challenges were:

  • 2017: To have visited and met with people in all 50 states by year-end.
  • 2016: To build an artificial-intelligence-powered personal assistant based on Jarvis from Iron Man, and to run 365 miles over the course of the year.
  • 2015: To read a new book every other week.
  • 2014: To write at least one thank-you note every day.
  • 2013: To meet one new person every day who was not a Facebook employee.
  • 2012: To code every day.
  • 2011: To only eat animals he killed himself.
  • 2010: To learn Mandarin.
  • 2009: To wear a tie every day. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.
Publish date: January 8, 2019 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT