Facebook’s data breaches will only have increased the public’s distaste for Mark Zuckerberg. But much as people like to hate the social network’s founder today, regarding him as rapacious, power-crazed and venal, it’s a sure bet that we’ll all end up feeling sorry for him, and the other big boys of technology, in the end.
Mark Zuckerberg: Why Should You Feel Sorry
Because, for all their vast wealth, Mark Zuckerberg is monumentally screwed. Through a mixture of talent and luck, tech individuals like Zuckerberg hit the jackpot. They devised the likes of Facebook, Google and Twitter. But they’re now being asked to solve some really big issues.
For example, what to do about people who use their platforms to meddle in elections or spread lies, paranoia, bigotry and straight-up hate. Everyone thinks they’ll be able to fix these problems, because they’re geniuses. The truth is, they haven’t a clue how to do it. They started out wanting to make the world a better place using cool technology, and here they are, dealing with all of this democracy and public responsibility stuff, which they never signed up for and honestly don’t have the chops to handle.
Claims that artificial intelligence will be able to root out toxic content are also wildly premature: as Twitter boss Jack Dorsey, to his credit, has admitted:
And entrusting the job to human moderators also raises all sorts of practical and ethical problems.
Be Like Bill
Mark Zuckerberg should take a leaf out his close adviser Bill Gates’s book.
As the founder of Microsoft, Gates, too, people thought he was the boss of an evil empire. But in 2000, after serving as CEO of Microsoft for 25 years, he stepped down at the age of 44. Since this, the public transformed from that of corporate demon to beloved grandpa philanthropist. Gates achieved this mainly by giving lots of money away. Plus keeping out of the day-to-day corporate headlines. Eighteen years on, Gates is now rated by polls as the most admired man in America, and one of the most competent.
If Mark Zuckerberg to step down after 25 years at the helm of Facebook he could follow exactly the same trajectory. His philanthropic organisation is already starting to make waves. Society’s good graces have a price, and it is a lot lower than the $45bn that Zuckerberg and his wife have pledged to their initiative.
This is why Mark Zuckerberg and his peers deserves our deep sympathy. Poor tech bosses.