The founder and CEO of Facebook, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, was recently awarded the first-ever Axel Springer Award by German publishing house Axel Springer SE – the owner of publications such as Bild and Die Welt. While in Berlin to receive the award, Mr. Zuckerberg sat down with the chief executive of the company, Mr. Mathias D¶pfner, for an exclusive interview. Through the course of the interview, the Facebook CEO answered questions on a wide variety of topics ranging from his impressions of the business environment in Berlin to the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe, but the conversation eventually turned to artificial intelligence (AI), Oculus Rift and of course, the future of Facebook.
While Mr. Zuckerberg expressed optimism that virtual reality will become more mainstream in the future, he made it very clear that he doesn't expect that to happen anytime soon. According to him, "Virtual Reality is going to be an important technology. I'm pretty confident about this". However, it might take anything between 5 years to 20 years for the technology to become mainstream, in his opinion. It's worth mentioning here that Facebook is the owner of Oculus VR, the American tech startup that is behind the much talked-about VR headset – the Oculus Rift, which went on pre-order back in early January and will reportedly start shipping from the 28th of this month.
Asked about why he thinks VR will be big business in the future, The Zuck replied, "People will always want more immersive ways to express themselves. In the future, I think you are going to want to capture a whole scene, a room, to be able to transport to that. To be able to stream what you are doing live and have people be able to interact in that space". He also dismissed any suggestion that VR is encouraging unsocial tendencies among children. According to him, "The exact opposite is the case. … I think people tend to be worried about every new technology that comes along. Critics worry that if we spend time paying attention to that new kind of media or technology instead of talking to each other that that is somehow isolating. But humans are fundamentally social. So I think in reality, if a technology doesn't actually help us socially understand each other better, it isn't going to catch on and succeed".
Mr. Zuckerberg also spoke at length about artificial intelligence (AI), and sought to dispel any notion that human civilization as we know it today may someday be under the threat of a concerted attack by robots guided by AI, along the lines of sci-fi movies like 'I, Robot', say for instance. According to him, the concerns expressed by Tesla founder, Mr. Elon Musk, is more "hysterical" than reality and "unless we really mess something up", machines will continue serving humans, without the tables being turned any time soon. Interestingly, Mr. Zuckerberg also revealed that he continues to write code as a way of "staying in touch with the state of the technology", even though he admitted to have stopped coding for Facebook a long time back.