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Why Mark Zuckerberg’s New Year’s Resolution Is Incredibly Ambitious (Even for Him)

The Facebook founder is holding public discussions about tech’s biggest challenges this year.

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BY Guadalupe Gonzalez - 10 Jan 2019

mark zuckerberg's new year's resolution

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

After spending 2018 answering questions from Congress and journalists about how he would "fix Facebook," Mark Zuckerberg is devoting 2019 to asking some questions of his own.

For his New Year's resolution, the 34-year-old founder will host a "series of public discussions about the future of technology in society" with leaders, experts, and "people in our community from different fields." Zuckerberg announced the plan in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

Every January for the past decade, Zuckerberg has revealed the "personal challenge" he would tackle that year. But in the wake of the 2016 presidential election--when bad actors used Facebook to spread politically-charged misinformation--his challenges changed from the practical (build an AI for his house) to the abstract (go on a nationwide "listening tour").

"There are so many big questions about the world we want to live in and technology's place in it," Zuckerberg wrote, adding that the discussions will be available for viewing on Facebook, Instagram, or other platforms. "Do we want technology to keep giving more people a voice, or will traditional gatekeepers control what ideas can be expressed?"

The questions Zuckerberg wants answered, such as how artificial intelligence can be used to create jobs and how the tech industry can maintain a steady pace of innovation, have been debated in the public sphere for years. So there's reason to be skeptical that they can be resolved in the next 12 months. By Zuckerberg's own admission, it's going to take years to fulfill his 2018 resolution to fix Facebook.

Still, the resolution creates an opportunity to have meaningful, nuanced conversations about technology's role in the world. And it could have a useful personal and professional impact on Zuckerberg himself, who admitted in his post that he's not really comfortable in the public spotlight. "I'm an engineer, and I used to just build out my ideas and hope they'd mostly speak for themselves," he wrote. "Given the importance of what we do, that doesn't cut it anymore."

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