Mark Zuckerberg's Q+A with Stephen Hawking and the Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger

 
Lynsey Barber
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Mark Zuckerberg has spoken about his personal and business life (Source: Facebook)

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg often turns to Facebook (where else?) to hold Q+A sessions so those around the world can raise a question with him.

Last night, though, the billionaire social network founder was joined by a line-up of star-studded questioners which included scientist Stephen Hawking, media darling Arianna Huffington and even the Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"I would like to know a unified theory of gravity and the other forces. Which of the big questions in science would you like to know the answer to and why?" questioned Hawking.

Here's what Zuck had to say:

That's a pretty good one! I'm most interested in questions about people. What will enable us to live forever? How do we cure all diseases? How does the brain work? How does learning work and how we can empower humans to learn a million times more?

I'm also curious about whether there is a fundamental mathematical law underlying human social relationships that governs the balance of who and what we all care about. I bet there is. - Mark Zuckerberg to Stephen Hawking

Naturally, the questioning of former Mr Universe Arnie, had more of a physical focus than a theoretical one.

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"Mark, I always tell people that nobody is too busy to exercise, especially if Popes and Presidents find time. You've got to be one of the busiest guys on the planet, and younger generations can probably relate to you more than they can the Pope - so tell me how you find time to train and what is your regimen like?" he asked.

Staying in shape is very important. Doing anything well requires energy, and you just have a lot more energy when you're fit.

I make sure I work out at least three times a week - usually first thing when I wake up. I also try to take my dog running whenever I can, which has the added bonus of being hilarious because that basically like seeing a mop run.

And no, the machines don't win  - Mark Zuckerberg to Arnold Schwarzenegger

In some more business-focused probing, HuffPost founder Arianna Huffington, put this to the Facebook boss: "Facebook has played a huge role in the digital publishing industry over the past few years. Based on everything you've learned, how do you think the way journalists and news organizations present their stories online will evolve over the next few years? And what types of products are you focused on in this space?"

I think there will be a couple of trends towards richness and speed / frequency.

On richness, we're seeing more and more rich content online. Instead of just text and photos, we're now seeing more and more videos. This will continue into the future and we'll see more immersive content like VR. For now though, making sure news organizations are delivering increasingly rich content is important and it's what people want.

On speed / frequency, traditional news is thoroughly vetted but this model has a hard time keeping us with important things happening constantly. There's an important place for news organizations that can deliver smaller bits of news faster and more frequently in pieces. This won't replace the longer and more researched work, and I'm not sure anyone has fully nailed this yet.

Responding to a question by media commentator and journalist Jeff Jarvis about the social network's new Instant Articles partnership with publishers, Zuckerberg also had this to say about Facebook's role in the future of news:

There's an important place for news organizations that can deliver smaller bits of news faster and more frequently in pieces. This won't replace the longer and more researched work, and I'm not sure anyone has fully nailed this yet. - Mark Zuckerberg to Arianna Huffington on the future of news

People discover and read a lot of news content on Facebook, so we spend a lot of time making this experience as good as possible.

One of the biggest issues today is just that reading news is slow. If you're using our mobile app and you tap on a photo, it typically loads immediately. But if you tap on a news link, since that content isn't stored on Facebook and you have to download it from elsewhere, it can take 10+ seconds to load. People don't want to wait that long, so a lot of people abandon news before it has loaded or just don't even bother tapping on things in the first place, even if they wanted to read them.

That's easy to solve, and we're working on it with Instant Articles. When news is as fast as everything else on Facebook, people will naturally read a lot more news. That will be good for helping people be more informed about the world, and it will be good for the news ecosystem because it will deliver more traffic.

It's important to keep in mind that Instant Articles isn't a change we make by ourselves. We can release the format, but it will take a while for most publishers to adopt it. So when you ask about the "next thing", it really is getting Instant Articles fully rolled out and making it the primary news experience people have.

And here's what Zuckerberg said about Facebook's fledgling work in artificial intelligence:

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Our goal is to build AI systems that are better than humans at our primary senses: vision, listening, etc. - Mark Zuckerberg on AI

Most of our AI research is focused on understanding the meaning of what people share.

For example, if you take a photo that has a friend in it, then we should make sure that friend sees it. If you take a photo of a dog or write a post about politics, we should understand that so we can show that post and help you connect to people who like dogs and politics.

In order to do this really well, our goal is to build AI systems that are better than humans at our primary senses: vision, listening, etc.

For vision, we're building systems that can recognize everything that's in an image or a video. This includes people, objects, scenes, etc. These systems need to understand the context of the images and videos as well as whatever is in them.

For listening and language, we're focusing on translating speech to text, text between any languages, and also being able to answer any natural language question you ask.

This is a pretty basic overview. There's a lot more we're doing and I'm looking forward to sharing more soon.

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