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Zuckerberg's 2019 resolution: Analyze how tech, society cross-pollinate

Facebook's CEO says he used to hope his ideas would speak for themselves, but "that doesn't cut it anymore."


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

James Martin

Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg wants to talk about the future of technology. 

On Tuesday, Zuckerberg said his personal challenge for 2019 is to "host a series of public discussions about the future of technology in society -- the opportunities, the challenges, the hopes, and the anxieties."

The 34-year-old tech mogul plans to chat with leaders, experts and people in the community from different fields and share these discussions on Facebook, Instagram or other media.

The leader of the world's largest social network certainly has a lot to talk about, given the company's seemingly endless string of scandals last year. 

"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," Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. 

Every year I take on a personal challenge to learn something new. I've built an AI for my home, run 365 miles, visited...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Some of the questions he outlined include "Do we want technology to keep giving more people a voice, or will traditional gatekeepers control what ideas can be expressed?" and "Should we decentralize authority through encryption or other means to put more power in people's hands?"

Zuckerberg started sharing his new year's resolutions publicly in 2009, when he vowed to wear a tie to work every day. Since then, he's taken on a variety of challenges including learning Mandarin, building an artificial intelligence assistant, and visiting and meeting people in every state.

Last year, Zuckerberg's personal challenge was to focus on fixing the issues plaguing the world's largest social network, including the spread of misinformation and election meddling. But Facebook's woes piled up in 2018, raising concerns about the company's leadership, its future and whether it's doing enough to protect the data of its nearly 2.3 billion users.

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Facebook's long list of scandals in 2018 included revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based political consultancy, accessed the data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their permission.

In December, Zuckerberg reflected on Facebook's tumultuous year -- during which he testified in a marathon Q&A session before Congress -- and outlined what the company has done to address the problems it's facing. 

That couldn't have been an easy time for him, and the 2019 challenge may provoke more unease.

"I'm going to put myself out there," Zuckerberg wrote Tuesday, "more than I've been comfortable with."

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