Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hosted a live chat from Berlin on Thursday morning, where he and Facebook’s director of artificial intelligence Yann LeCun answered questions about the company’s investments in AI and virtual reality.
When Zuckerberg was asked why he invested in virtual reality, the 31-year-old billionaire had this to say:
“Our mission is to give anyone the power to express anything they’re thinking about or want to experience.”
Zuckerberg explained that technological progress has allowed people to communicate in richer and richer media formats: awhile ago it was text, the last five years or so has been photos, and now we’re getting to the point where we can share video. But in the future, Zuckerberg believes we’ll be able to capture and share entire settings, which you can see using “either a headset or a different sort of device.”
“But just because we have video and photos and text doesn’t mean, in the future, you shouldn’t be able to capture a whole room or a whole setting and see it using either a headset or a different sort of device,” he said
“I’ve been thinking about when my daughter takes her first steps, how I want to capture it,” Zuckerberg said. “When I took my first steps, my parents wrote it in a book with a pen. When my cousins’ child took her first steps, she took a picture with her camera. And when my older sister’s son took his first steps, she took a video on her smartphone. But when my daughter does, I hope we have a 360 camera that can capture the whole scene, so if my family isn’t there to experience it, I can send it to them afterwards — or it would be real-time enough where I could stream it to them live. They could put on a headset or get a message and feel like they’re really there and experiencing it.
“I think that’s going to be really profound: not only being able to capture real things in a much more visceral way, but being able to construct different things that wouldn’t be possible.”
Zuckerberg also mentioned virtual reality’s potential to transform video games.
“Last week the president of Indonesia visited Facebook and I gave him the latest tour of Oculus. So we’re standing in different rooms and we start playing ping pong. Okay this is cool, but we could do this in with a normal table, so let’s make this interesting: Let’s dial up and down the gravity. Now we’re changing physics and we’re doing things we couldn’t otherwise do. So we played ping pong in zero gravity, like we’re in space. We’re hitting balls but I don’t hit it too hard because there’s no gravity, it’s gone. The good news is in virtual reality there are always more balls.”
Zuckerberg said VR plays a big part in Facebook’s overall mission to help people share and express themselves, but he believes it’s going to take at least 10 years to “become a mainstream big thing.”
“We want glasses we all wear on a day to day basis, not a big set of goggles,” he said. “I think it’s going to be interesting to check in on this 10 years from now and see where that’s going. But these things take awhile.
“VR is going to need 10 years to become a very mainstream big thing. But we’re committed to this, we have the resources to be able to invest and use these investments across the world to bring the research community into this, and I think this can make a big difference for giving everyone the power to share what they care about and helping everyone share in the opportunities of the internet.”
You can watch the whole talk in the video below.