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Mark Zuckerberg made some mind-bending predictions about the future at a Q&A he hosted on his Facebook page on Tuesday.
They may seem far-fetched now, but some of the Facebook CEO’s ideas are shared by futurists and scientists alike.
Scientists at Facebook and elsewhere are working toward a future where artificial intelligence, telepathy, and virtual reality are commonplace. In fact, some of that technology is already here.
In the future, Zuckerberg hopes we’ll be able to:
Send your thoughts to another person
Almost all the technology being built today focuses on creating rich communication experiences, Zuckerberg said. As that technology improves, he foresees us bypassing smartphones and computers altogether, and speaking to each other using the power of our minds.
“One day, I believe we’ll be able to send full rich thoughts to each other directly using technology,” he said. “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.”
Zuckerberg isn’t alone in asserting that telepathy will soon be commonplace. Ray Kurzweil, a computer scientist and futurist who’s made some outrageous predictions of his own, believes that we’ll soon be able to connect our minds to the cloud, and communicate with the Internet and other people through the use of tiny DNA robots.
Today, scientists are working on technology that sends simple yes and no messages using skull caps that have external sensors and receivers. A person wearing one cap can nod their head or blink, which would be translated to a yes or no question and communicated via a magnetic coil affixed to the second person’s head.
Have a computer describe images to you
Zuckerberg posted a video of Yann LeCunn, director of Facebook’s AI research, two weeks ago that revealed some of Zuckerberg’s ideas about AI. LeCunn expounds on his work in computer vision, a subfield of AI that focuses on improving how computers perceive visual data like images and videos.
This AI tech already exists, LeCunn said, in applications from ATM machines to the facial recognition systems that allows Facebook users to tag friends in photos. Zuckerberg believes this work will eventually culminate in a computer that can view an image or a video and describe it in plain English.
He believes it’s a technology that will be widely available in the near future, but the beginnings of it are available right now in computer science labs across the world.
“We’re building systems that can recognize everything that’s in an image or a video,” Zuckerberg said. “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.”
Use lasers to beam the Internet from the sky
Making the Internet, and more specifically Facebook, accessible to as many people on the globe as possible remains one of Zuckerberg’s primary concerns. Facebook has developed laser communications system that are attached to drones and essentially beam the Internet down from the sky.
“As part of our Internet.org efforts, we’re working on ways to use drones and satellites to connect the billion people who don’t live in range of existing wireless networks,” he said. “Our Connectivity Lab is developing a laser communications system that can beam data from the sky into communities. This will dramatically increase the speed of sending data over long distances.”
According to Popular Science, Facebook has already rounded up test flights of the drone, which “reportedly have a larger wingspan than a Boeing 737 — 102 or 138 feet.”
Be immune to diseases
In a rare encounter between a social media mogul and a physicist, Stephen Hawking asked Zuckerberg, “I would like to know a unified theory of gravity and the other forces. Which of the big questions in science would you like to know the answer to and why?”
Zuckerberg’s response centered on his fascination with people and his hopes for medical advances that will essentially turn us all into Supermen.
“I’m most interested in questions about people,” he said. “What will enable us to live forever? How do we cure all diseases? How does the brain work? How does learning work and how we can empower humans to learn a million times more?”
Once again, AI comes into the fray. Watson, the IBM machine that famously defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1996 and world Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings in 2011, is back — better than ever, and this time in hospitals. Watson is assisting doctors at MD Anderson hospital with developing treatment plans for leukemia patients.
Health care is an industry that many AI scientists believe is ripe for change, and one where AI can make a real difference.
“I’m convinced that machine learning and deep learning are going to have a profound impact on how medical science is going to be in the future,” Yoshua Bengio, AI scientist at the Universite de Montreal, told Business Insider. “The natural machine learning thing to do is to consider millions and millions of people, and measure their symptoms and … connect the dots. Then be able to say ‘given all the information we have for that particular person, their medical history, that’s the best treatment.’ That’s called personalized treatment.”
Live in a virtual reality world
Asked about how the world will look from a technology and social media perspective, Zuckerberg answered, “We’re working on VR because I think it’s the next major computing and communication platform after phones. … I think we’ll also have glasses on our faces that can help us out throughout the day and give us the ability to share our experiences with those we love in completely immersive and new ways that aren’t possible today.”
Zuckerberg has a stake in making virtual reality a feasible device for everyday users. Facebook purchased Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion, and it’ll soon be available for consumers next year.
This story originally appeared on Business Insider. Copyright 2015
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