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Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicted some wild things !

Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicted some wild things at a town hall he hosted Tuesday night on his social network, including the ability for humans to one day talk to each other with their minds and for lasers to beam Internet access down to Earth.

His comments come at an interesting juncture for the social network, which continues to expand into new fields of technology as it moves beyond its core business.

Whether any or all of the below predictions — some taken straight out of science fiction — come to fruition remains to be seen. But with technology developing fast and Silicon Valley’s largest companies and entrepreneurs sitting on billions of dollars in cash, it is worth exploring.

Shares of Facebook FB climbed 1.2 percent to $86.74 in recent trading. They are up 27.5 percent over the last 12 months, compared with a 5 percent improvement for the broader S&P 500.

Here are five of his most mind-blowing predictions:

Virtual reality

Oculus, which Facebook bought in 2014 for $3 billion, is scheduled to release its first consumer-level, virtual-reality headset early next year, and expectations are high.

Analysts at PiperJaffray recently said it expects virtual reality to be the megatrend of the next 30 years, with Oculus leading the charge. They compared the market to the mobile phone industry of 15 years ago.

Facebook has already started to explore mechanisms of storytelling and communication through Oculus, but Zuckerberg said the future of this technology is going to be “pretty wild.”

“Our mission is to give people the power to experience anything, even if you don’t have the ability to travel somewhere, or to be with someone in person, or even if something is physically impossible to build in our analog world,” he said.

In the future, he expects people to share entire experiences through virtual reality, much as they share pictures of their vacations today.

“This will be incredibly powerful as a communication medium,” he said. “We’ll be able to capture whole 3-D scenes and create new environments and then share those with people.”

People will still carry phones in their pockets, at least for the next 10 years, he said, but they’ll also be wearing augmented-reality glasses to assist them on an everyday basis.


The next logical step beyond virtual reality will be telepathy, Zuckerberg said.

The Facebook chief can imagine a future where we don’t even need to speak to communicate. Technology has already enabled this with messaging, but Zuckerberg expects technology to evolve to a point that we can share whole thoughts and full “sensory and emotional” experiences telepathically.

“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.”


In response to a question by Stephen Hawking regarding the biggest questions in science he would like to see answered, Zuckerberg said he was most interested in questions related to people, particularly how our minds work, and how we can reach super-intelligence and immortality.

“What will enable us to live forever? How do we cure all diseases? How does the brain work? How does learning work, and how can we empower humans to learn a million times more?” he said.

Zuckerberg was also curious about whether there is a fundamental mathematical law underlying human social relationships that governs the balance of whom and what we care about.

“I bet there is,” he said.

Artificial intelligence

Speaking of super-intelligence, Zuckerberg touched on the company’s use of artificial intelligence, and how it may shape the platform in the future. Facebook’s research in this area currently focuses on understanding the context of individual posts so that its algorithms can determine the best way to sort them.

But the ultimate goal is to build artificial intelligence systems so advanced that they can see or hear things as well as, or better than, humans can, according to Zuckerberg. For vision, they may be able to recognize everything in an image or video, from people to objects and scenes. They’ll be able to understand the “content of the images and videos,” he said.

While these will help improve the Facebook News Feed experience, Zuckerberg is expecting artificial intelligence to serve more advanced functions, such as giving computers the ability to describe images to a blind person.

“If we could build computers that could understand what’s in an image and could tell a blind person who otherwise couldn’t see that image, that would be pretty amazing,” he said.

It’s something Facebook hopes to deliver within the decade.

Laser beams

Zuckerberg has long expressed an interest in giving Internet access to everyone on Earth through Facebook’s nonprofit organization, The company is currently striking partnerships with operators to deliver free basic Internet services around the world.

Google Inc. has also tried to tackle this issue with technology, testing high-altitude solar balloons through Project Loon that would sit high above rural areas. But despite these efforts, nearly two-thirds of the world’s population is without Internet access.

In the future, Zuckerberg believes, technological innovation in the form of drones, satellites and lasers will tip the scales further.

“The idea is that in the future, we’ll be able to beam down Internet access from a plane flying overhead or a satellite flying way overhead — and they’ll communicate down to Earth using very accurate lasers to transfer data,” he said.


Does it really matter if you pull a USB out before it safely ejects?

We’ve all been guilty of ripping our USB drives out of our computers instead of ejecting them properly, only to receive the judgmental pop up telling us we really shouldn’t have done that. But when everything on the USB works fine next time you plug it in, you can’t help but wonder: does it actually do anything when you safely eject your disk before removing it?

Well, we’ve done a little background research, and it turns out that it does. In fact, waiting those extra 30 seconds to safely eject could help to properly save your data and software. But the risk really depends on your operating system, and what you’re actually doing with your USB drive.

Our operating systems have been programmed to treat our external drives – like USB sticks – like they’ll always be there. It expects the files on it to remain accessible indefinitely and this changes the way it interacts with a flash drive.

This means if a program on your computer is just reading a file and not actually saving any information to the drive, it’s probably not going mess things up too much for the files on your USB stick if you suddenly yank it out. But you do risk confusing your computer. “Symptoms could include: Lost data, corrupted file systems, crashing programs, or hanging computers requiring a reboot.”

On the other hand, if you’ve altered or uploaded new information to your drive at some point, no matter how long ago, things are a bit more risky. That’s because our operating systems are too efficient to simply stop what they’re doing and save information whenever you tell it to. Instead, most are programmed to do what’s known as ‘write caching’.

“For efficiency’s sake, they don’t actually write the files you’re moving to the disk until there are multiple files to move. Ejecting the disk is a way of telling the computer that it’s time to do the writing, regardless of whether the computer deems it efficient. When you remove a flash drive without warning the computer first, it might not have finished writing to the drive.”

This means that pulling your external drive out without warning could result in the file you just saved being lost forever – even if you saved it hours ago.

So how does the “safely remove hardware” command fix this problem?

 The command does the following things:

  • It flushes all active writes to disk.
  • It alerts all programs (that know how to be alerted) that the disk is going away, and to take appropriate action.
  • It alerts the user when programs have failed to take action, and still are holding files open.

Of course, modern operating systems are getting better and better and preparing for us to pull the rug out from under them by trying to write and read files as quickly as possible. Windows has even introduced a feature called “Optimize for Quick Removal” that you can select to make sure files are written quickly, rather than by write caching, which is the most efficient way.

But you can still never be sure exactly when your computer is done with your external flash drive, and that makes pulling it out a big gamble.

Bottom line? You can remove a disk at any time, but you are at the mercy of how well programs using the disk cope with the sudden disappearance of that disk.

So go on and continue living life on the edge, ripping those USB drives out with abandon if you really don’t have the 30 seconds to spare. But just remember what’s at stake next time you’re saving precious information onto your USB drive.

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