Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stated his belief that the world is in need of a “global superstructure” in a recent article from the New York Times Magazine.
In an article titled “Can Facebook Fix It’s Own Worst Bug?” author Farhad Manjoo poses the question, “Mark Zuckerberg now acknowledges the dangerous side of the social revolution he helped start. But is the most powerful tool for connection in human history capable of adapting to the world it created?”
The author met with Zuckerberg to discuss Facebook and the many issues that the company faces. At one point, Zuckerberg discussed the need for the development of social infrastructure in order for humanity to “get to the next level.”
“There’s a social infrastructure that needs to get built for modern problems in order for humanity to get to the next level,” he stated. “Having more people oriented not just toward short-term things but toward building the long-term social infrastructure that needs to get built across all these things in order to enable people to come together is going to be a really important thing over the next decades.”
Zuckerberg highlighted Facebook’s “safety check” feature which allows users to publicly acknowledge that they’re safe during dangerous events. Zuckerberg later expanded on this, describing a “global superstructure to advance humanity.” Zuckerberg stated, “we’re getting to a point where the biggest opportunities I think in the world … problems like preventing pandemics from spreading or ending terrorism, all these things, they require a level of coordination and connection that I don’t think can only be solved by the current systems that we have.”
The author of the article states, “What’s needed, he argues, is some global superstructure to advance humanity.”
Manjoo goes on to describe Zuckerberg’s idea as not a particularly controversial one, but his position as unelected CEO of a company and not an elected government official makes his proposal troubling. “This is not an especially controversial idea,” the author writes, “Zuckerberg is arguing for a kind of digital-era version of the global institution-building that the Western world engaged in after World War II. But because he is a chief executive and not an elected president, there is something frightening about his project.”
The author argues that Zuckerberg is purposefully positioning himself as a key figure in the future: “He is positioning Facebook — and, considering that he commands absolute voting control of the company, he is positioning himself — as a critical enabler of the next generation of human society. A minor problem with his mission is that it drips with megalomania, albeit of a particularly sincere sort.”
Manjoo notes that Zuckerberg acts in quite a casual manner about his plans to transition from the current infrastructure of the world into his newest vision. “Zuckerberg is often blasé about the messiness of the transition between the world we’re in and the one he wants to create through software,” he notes. “Building new ‘social infrastructure’ usually involves tearing older infrastructure down. If you manage the demolition poorly, you might undermine what comes next. In the case of the shattering media landscape, Zuckerberg seems finally to have at least noticed this problem and may yet come up with fixes for it. But in the meantime, Facebook rushes headlong into murky new areas, uncovering new dystopian possibilities at every turn.”
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