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Mark Zuckerberg wants to talk about the future. We should probably listen.

Zuckerberg’s annual New Year’s resolution is to talk more about the future of technology.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Justin Sullivan / Getty

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shares a public New Year’s resolution every year. There was the year he vowed to learn Mandarin. The year he killed all his own meat. And then there was the year he toured America to milk cows and ride tractors.

Last year, Zuckerberg’s New Year’s resolution was to fix Facebook. Whether or not he accomplished that depends on who you ask.

This year? Expect to hear a lot more from Zuckerberg publicly. He wants to talk about the future.

“My 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,” he wrote on Tuesday. “Every few weeks I’ll talk with leaders, experts, and people in our community from different fields and I’ll try different formats to keep it interesting. These will all be public, either on my Facebook or Instagram pages or on other media.”

There will be a lot of people who don’t care to hear from Zuckerberg right now. His company is at the center of virtually every major issue facing the internet today — from so-called fake news to hate speech to internet addiction. Facebook is the current poster child for digital privacy mishaps and creepy ad targeting.

People are pretty much fed up.

But I’d say that’s all the more reason that we should hear from Zuckerberg more regularly. As arguably the most powerful internet executive around — he controls a company with well over two billion monthly users for a single product — understanding how Zuckerberg views the future will be key to the rest of us preparing for it. If he has wonky ideas about the future of artificial intelligence, for example, it could be useful to know about those now, before Facebook implements them to everyone who has a smartphone.

Assuming we get to hear his genuine thoughts — not a scripted discussion written by the company’s PR team — hearing from Zuckerberg more often should be a good thing. We should probably listen.

When and how these discussions will take shape are still to be determined, according to a company spokesperson. Will he interview famous friends and colleagues, like Bill Gates? Will he spar with executives who disagree with him on key issues, like Elon Musk, who holds drastically different views on the future of artificial intelligence? As The Verge’s Casey Newton asked, is Zuckerberg “launching a talk show?”

We don’t know. But we’ll find out soon enough.

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

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