Mark said he would give away 99 percent of his ZuckerbergFacebook shares during his lifetime to "advance human potential and promote equality." He plans to do it through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a for-profit philanthropic venture he co-founded with wife, Priscilla Chan. While the announcement was held in December via an open letter to his newborn daughter, there hasn't been a lot of information on how he plans to go about it. Until today, that is.
In the latest 'Genius' issue of Popular Science, the Facebook CEO and founder offered up details on how he's going about reforming education through software and personalized education. He also shed light on his Free Basics program, an initiative to bring the Internet to millions of people around the world. The effort had suffered a setback in February when India refused to participate. Then, of course, there's virtual reality, the immersive technology that Zuckerberg says will be "a mainstream-computing platform" in just 10 years.
These concepts still seem a bit out there--even as Facebook's $2 billion acquisition of VR hardware company Oculus Rift in 2014 has proven prescient, as competitors join the fray. However, on balance, they're less so. And while he has sweeping goals like inventing the next-generation computing platform and connecting our entire planet, the truth is, the 32-year-old seems not only up to the task but also born for it.
Just consider this appraisal Ben Horowitz of the prestigious venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz tells Popular Science: "He is totally determined, willing to fail and try again, has the resources, and he's a genius. If he can't lead the way, then I'm not sure who can."
So where pray tell is the doggedly ambitious entrepreneur leading us? Here's a recap on Zuckerberg's three big programs that may well change the way we do everything from learning about U.S. history to watching Netflix.
Building a Next-Gen Computing Platform
Zuckerberg believes the next computing platforms will be able to offer users a comprehensive range of virtual reality or augmented reality activities, much like the array of apps you can download for your phone and tablets today. Its most important contribution, however, will be that it will allow people to socialize with each other in an immersive cybernetic reality. A feat you might deem more inclusive than a solo interaction with a device.
"I'll be able to say, 'OK, we're here together, let's play chess.' Now here's a chessboard, and we can be in any space. We can play chess on Mars," the tech entrepreneur told Popular Science.
Connecting the World
He may have had his start connecting people online with childhood friends and long-lost relatives, but soon Zuckerberg realized more than half of the world's population still lacks Internet access. So in comes Free Basics, which is now available in 42 countries and services more than 25 million users.
Another one of Zuckerberg's ventures, the open-sourced OpenCellular, is a transmitter that connects to existing infrastructure and broadcasts Wi-Fi and 2G to LTE mobile service to up to 1,500 users in a six-miles radius.
Then there's the drone project dubbed "Aquila," in which the flying devices act as standalone satellites. They can transmit Wi-Fi with enough bandwidth to support thousands of users. On its debut flight, one Aquila drone lasted 96 minutes in the air, three times longer than expected--but far from the three months they're projected to last.
It's common knowledge that Zuckerberg donated $100 million to New Jersey's school system back in 2010. Unfortunately, after mishandling and corruption allegations, his gift quickly evaporated without yielding the kind of change you would expect with such a sizable donation.
Learning from that experience, Zuckerberg has chosen to tackle his education goals with a more familiar approach: software innovation. He teamed up with Summit Public Schools, a charter school system in California, to develop an education platform focused on personalized training. Picture, hundreds of kids each with a computer in his or her grasp learning at their own pace. This is the future of education, he says.