Mark Zuckerberg already has persuaded you to share your status updates, photos and videos with the world. But you’re still being stingy, Zuckerberg insists. You ought to share your unfiltered thoughts with everyone as well.
During an on-site Q&A today, Zuckerberg traced the evolution of online communications from text to photo to video to live video, predicting that virtual reality would be next. After that, he said, he dreams of a sort of techno-telepathy in which people will “capture” and “share” their thoughts and feelings direct from their heads.
This is not the first time Zuck has salivated over mind-reading, an apparent preoccupation of the young CEO. He first called telepathy the “the future of communication” almost exactly one year ago.
That, however, was just an offhand comment — his Facebook Live remarks are far more telling. Telling in the sense that, where I see a dim corporatocratic hellscape, Zuckerberg sees a frolicking utopia of puppies and sunshine and … sharing.
Anyway, don’t let my cynicism ruin Zuckerberg’s vision for you. Here, in his own words (bolding ours), is how he hopes social media will work in the far future:
A lot of what we’re trying to do here is give everyone in the world the power to share exactly what they’re experiencing and thinking with anyone else.
You know, if you go back to the Internet 10 years ago, most of what we shared online was text. … Since then, now we all have phones, or most of us do, that have cameras. So we take a lot of photos. And now as our Internet and networks are getting better, we can start to support more video. Right? We can upload videos, we can do this live like we’re doing here. And that is just making this experience richer and richer, and you’re getting a better sense of what people are experiencing and feeling around the world. And it’s just really powerful.
But the question that you have to ask is: Is video the end of the line, right? Is that as good as we can do, in terms of capturing a scene and what someone is experiencing at that point in time? And I think that the answer to that is definitely no, right? Because technology can always get better, we can always do a better job of giving everyone a voice, making it so that everyone can share exactly what they’re thinking.
And to me that’s what VR is about. It’s about presence — feeling like you’re really there with someone. … It’s going on this historical trend toward people getting the power to share what they’re feeling and thinking in much more detail over time. Text, photos, to videos, to whole scenes, to even more beyond that.…
I know that virtual reality is an interesting start, but you know, what’s beyond that? So just like I said, that you go from text to photos to videos and that’s not the end of the line, there’s going to be something like VR that can help us share what’s going on in the whole scene around us, I don’t think VR and AR are the end of the line either, you know, virtual reality. There’s always something that goes beyond that, and you know, some of this stuff starts to get really sci-fi and crazy, but let me give you three examples of science research that are going on, that are real today.
You know what I think we’re going to get to, at the end of the line past VR, is a world where more than just being able to capture what’s going on in a scene, I think you’re going to be able to capture a thought. What you’re thinking or feeling, in its kind of ideal and perfect form in your head and be able to share that with the world in a format where they can get that. There’s some pretty crazy brain research that is going on that suggests that we might be able to do this at some point.
It’ll probably be decades down the line, but you know, there’s this team at Berkeley, right around here, that’s doing this research where they can take an MRI of your brain and do an image of it and they can take an MRI of you watching different things, watching different TV programs, looking at a dog, a cat, doing different activities, and then they can take those activities away and just do an MRI of your brain and then, they tell you — then they can predict what you’re thinking about, what image you’re seeing in your mind’s eye just by doing the MRI and looking at the brain pattern.
You know that’s obviously pretty far-off. There are a lot of technology advances that are going to need to happen for that to be something safe to use, and something you’d actually want to do and all that. But I do think in the future we will have the ability to just capture kind of a raw emotion or thought that we have, when you want and how you want, and of course it’s really important that people have the power to do this in the way that they want,t o be able to share that with other people.
There’s also some pretty crazy research, I think there was a paper — I forget where I read this — but I think that the government was doing some research on memories and mice. Where basically they had a mouse go through a maze, and it encoded the memory of how to go through the maze in its head, and then they were actually able to take the representation of that memory and zap another mouse and put that memory into another mouse.
That’s pretty crazy stuff. And then that mouse, without ever having been through the maze, was able to go do it. That’s just straight out of the Matrix, right? That’s really far-off. No one’s doing that on humans. But I think that it’s, uh — in the future, there are all these ethical questions and all these interesting questions about how you do that well, and how you give people power so that they can do this in a way that they want. But having the ability, the raw ability over time, to be able to share a pure thought or feeling — in the way that you want, and give you control over that — 50 years from now, that might not be a crazy thing to think about.
Anyhow, we’re not working on that.
… not working on it, perhaps, but definitely thinking about it.
(For the record, here’s how Facebook telepathy would hypothetically work in that glorious future where we’re all communing our purest thoughts on the Internet.)