In a townhall Q&A session on Facebook yesterday, Marc Zuckerberg answered a handful of user-posed questions, tackling the specific (his workout routine, what's on his reading list, the average number of hours he clocks in at the office each week) as well as the more far-reaching (predictions for Facebook's future, the future of AI and the importance of creating a connected world).
Below are a few highlights from the session, which drew questions from Richard Branson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others.
On his workout routine
Zuckerberg works out three times a week, usually first thing in the morning, and tries to take his dog for a run whenever he can, saying it makes for a “hilarious” scene because it's “basically like seeing a mop run.”
(Fun fact: This nugget of information comes courtesy of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who asked Zuckerberg to shut down the whole "but I'm too busy to work out" excuse millennials are apparently fond of throwing around. "Mark, I always tell people that nobody is too busy to exercise, especially if Popes and Presidents find time," he wrote. "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?")
On his work schedule
While he's only physically in the office 50 to 60 hours a week, Zuckerberg doesn't unplug when he leaves the building. "If you count all the time I'm focused on our mission, that's basically my whole life," he wrote.
On the benefits of a connected world
Richard Branson was on hand to ask Zuckerberg about why he's working to connect the entire global population to the internet.
While there are tangible benefits – such as "access to education, health information, jobs and so on," he wrote – Zuckerberg believes that connecting more people will lead to more innovation.
"Think about how many brilliant entrepreneurs there are out there who have great ideas and the will to change the world, but just lack basic tools to do so today," he wrote. "If you go by the population, almost two-thirds of these entrepreneurs don’t have Internet access today. Once they get connected, we may have three times as many good ideas and amazing new services built that will benefit everyone around the world."
On artificial intelligence
If Facebook's ability to recognize and tag individuals in photos freaks you out, you won't like what's coming. "Our goal is to build AI systems that are better than humans at our primary senses: vision, listening, etc.," Zuckerberg wrote. "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."
On virtual reality
Last year, Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion. So what are Zuckerberg's plans for the company? In part, Zuckerberg says we can expect to see the social network use virtual reality to enhance online communication: "Just like we capture photos and videos today and then share them on the internet to let others experience them too, we'll be able to capture whole 3D scenes and create new environments and then share those with people as well. It will be pretty wild."
When asked "whats going on with facebook in the future?" Zuckerberg again focused on new methods of communication, this time going beyond advances in VR.
If Facebook has anything to do with it, in the future we will be able to communicate telepathically. According to Zuckerberg, it's the next natural advancement once swapping virtual reality experiences with one another becomes mainstream. "After that, we'll have the power to share our full sensory and emotional experience with people whenever we'd like," he wrote. "One day, I believe we'll be able to send full rich thoughts to each other directly using technology. You'll just be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too if you'd like. This would be the ultimate communication technology."
Why'd he come up with the now defunct feature? "It seemed like a good idea at the time."
You can find Zuckerberg's entire townhall session here, including answers to questions from Shakira, Arianna Huffington and Stephen Hawking.