29 August 2016

The Verge: “Facebook 2026”

But in our discussion, Zuckerberg spoke with deep conviction about the benefits that programs like Free Basics were already bringing to the world’s poor. As I was on my way out, he stopped me to ask if he could say a bit more about why he’s spending so much of his time on connectivity projects. “The internet really does bring so many opportunities to people”, he said. “There are all these studies that show that for every 10 people that get on the internet, about one person gets lifted out of poverty, and almost one new job gets created. If you’re talking about 4 billion people who are not on the internet, spreading internet connectivity is clearly one of the biggest things we can do to improve the quality of life for so many people around the world.”

Zuckerberg added that direct investment in education and health is critical. “But I think one thing that a lot of people miss is that if you’re living in a town that doesn’t have a good school, then the internet actually is your best bet for getting a good education”, he said. “And if you’re living in a place that doesn’t have a good doctor, then the internet is your best bet for being able to look up what a condition might be.”

Casey Newton

Interesting piece on Facebook’s plans for the future. But ten years is a very long time in this day and age, so my guess is many of these plans will either get scrapped or realized in very different ways – and possibly by companies other than Facebook. Some of Mark Zuckerberg’s comments sound overly idealistic, even naïve: the part about how efficiency and cost reduction gets past down to end customers for example. You have to keep in mind that the majority of the world’s poorest countries are not functioning democracies or free markets, so any efficiency gains are more likely to end up in the hands of the ruling class, not distributed among the poor.

In terms of the cost of data, we’re working on stuff like TIP Telecom Infra Project, making open-source software available for running telco networks — like our Open Compute project, which we’ve done internally. It saved us billions of dollars, and if we can save the telco industry billions of dollars, then in a competitive market that will be passed along to consumers in the form of lower data prices.

Facebook connectivity world map

This depiction of bots actually sounds interesting and it’s something that could work in the real world, reducing the need for dedicated staff to constantly answer customer queries. But the bots AI would need to vastly improve to provide correct answers, no only fast answers, otherwise you could start loosing customers faster than a bot can answer why?

So one of the first applications and things that we started looking at was researching, can we build an AI system that looks at the answers that a business is giving to people and start to predict for a certain category of questions what the answers will be? We realized that we actually could in a lot of cases. And as a business responds faster, people message it more. So one thing that we’re starting to think about is if we can move businesses away from manual responses to automated ones, then that actually is dramatically faster than what people have had before.

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