Twelve in, ten out
By now we should probably have realized that Facebook is not just a fun platform to keep track of old high school friends who we don’t care enough about to actually keep in touch with. Sure, that’s one of its many useful functions, but this data grubbing, tech influencing, marketing machine has much bigger goals in mind.
“Our mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected,” Facebook touts on none other than their own Facebook page. That 12-year-old mission statement is not just a pipe dream anymore. At their annual F8 conference in April, Facebook announced their 10-year-plan to change tech in our world.
In 10 years Facebook would like to achieve real results in worldwide connectivity, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence.
These are all ongoing projects for Facebook, and they’ve made strides in each of these categories. Let’s take a look at where they are now, and where they hope to be in 10 years.
In June of this year, Facebook successfully tested it’s unmanned solar powered internet aircraft, Acquila, in the middle of the Arizona desert.
The Acquila project will bring internet to four billion people without internet access in places where it’s too costly or remote to lay fiberoptic cables. The first ninety-six minute flight taught Facebook a lot about the aircraft and its technology, but they still have a long way to go.
Where we are now: Acquila still requires a ground crew to manage its vitals, though it can take off and land by itself. It uses the power of three hair dryers (powered by solar panels on its huge wings) to fly around above clouds and weather. Acquila weighs less than 1000 pounds, and they’re hoping to shave that down in future models.
The 10-Year Goal: Acquila will be fully self-sufficient, lighter, and more efficient. It will fly in fleets 60,000 feet above remote areas beaming internet to users on the ground. They will communicate with high powered lasers and land only for routine or necessary maintenance.
In October of this year, Facebook joined four other world technology leaders in an AI development partnership. Google, IBM, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook have committed to join forces to advance AI technology, inform best practices, and provide a platform for conversation and research.
Where we are now: Facebook has made significant strides in AI technology by creating smart chatbots, furthering AI facial recognition, and developing technology that determines what Facebook users want to see the most on their news feeds. They just discovered this year that AI can actually solve simple word problems, something that’s never been done before.
The 10-Year Goal: AI will be able to understand complex language and interpret video content, helping everyone experience the world more deeply and engage more completely.
No one is really sure what the future of virtual reality holds, but Facebook is willing to gamble on the immersive tech. They bought VR company Oculus Rift in 2014, and they have big plans.
Where we are now: Few people have access to Oculus rifts. And they are mostly used for gaming, though there have been a few private ventures to create content for VR experiences – like “Clouds Over Sidra,” a VR documentary about a Syrian refugee camp.
The 10-Year Goal: In the future, Facebook hopes to develop technology that transports you to other worlds when you put on the big black glasses. “Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home,” Zuckerberg wrote when he first announced the purchase of the VR company.
Here’s to the future
The future is a wild and crazy place full of solar powered planes, robots, and virtual transportation. Facebook is betting on tech to both expand our world and shrink our vast distances between one another. They want to deepen the ways we connect to each other in a meaningful way, and they’re betting that we want to stay connected to the people and world that we love too.
Facebook’s 10-year plan is an exciting peek behind the curtain of new technology, and though they have a long way to go, they are already changing the way we experience the world.