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September 29, 2020 62 mins

Facebook has ambitious plans for virtual reality. And Andrew “Boz” Bosworth is in charge of it all. He says we’ve only scratched the surface of how VR and AR technology will transform society. So what does that future look like? How do you make virtual interaction feel as natural as in-person interaction? How do you prevent harassment, without prohibiting intimacy? How will virtual spaces change the way we work? The way we learn? The way we play? And when it comes to your virtual self - who owns your identity? As Facebook dives head first into the next technological frontier, will they manage to avoid the mistakes of their past?


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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
First Contact with Lori Siegel is a production of Dot
Dot Dot Media and I Heart Radio. You are building
out a new computing platform, You're building out a new
social world. And I don't actually know if people realize
what a big deal this is. I could not agree more.
This is like the beginning of computing again. You know,

(00:23):
this is going back to the nineteen sixties seventies, when
the computers that we know now, even the ones we
have in our pockets, really come back to the same
fundamentals that were designed way back in the middle of
the last century. And with VR and a R, suddenly
it is a different paradigm. He's sitting in one of

(00:53):
the most influential seats at Facebook, building out a new
virtual social world. Andrew is Worth, better known as Boss,
was among the first fifteen engineers at Facebook. He still
remembers the exact day he started in two thousand six.
Over the years, he helped build news Feed, He oversaw
Facebook's advertising efforts during the election, and he's also become

(01:16):
known for his controversial and unfiltered opinions, which he sent
out in company wide attention grabbing memos. Now, Facebook is
pursuing an ambitious vision of virtual reality and augmented reality,
and it's Boss who's in charge. There is a lot
at stake as Facebook builds out what has potential to
be a whole new dimension. What will a R and

(01:39):
VR look like down the line, And how do you
make virtual interaction feel as natural as in person interaction?
What will this mean for the future of remote work?
How close is too close in the virtual world? And
when it comes to creating your virtual self, who owns
your identity? These are all ethical questions, and they are

(01:59):
the types of questions Facebook is looking at as they
invest pretty heavily in building out a R and VR
and as the company creates another social layer. I think
it's important to ask Boss how confident is he that
Facebook won't recreate the problems they've faced as a platform
over the last decade. But before we get to Boss,
I want to tell you about something new from Dot

(02:21):
dot Dot that I am really excited about. It's our
new email newsletter, The Gray Area. Each month, the Gray
Area confronts the complex issues facing technology and humanity, issues
that aren't necessarily black and white. In October, we're exploring
the controversial topic of technology and neutrality, including an unfiltered
perspective from a well known Silicon Valley founder who says

(02:43):
tech should not try to be neutral and those building
platforms now should start building with that in mind. It's
actually a fascinating take and I hope you guys don't
miss out. You can sign up at dot dot dot
media dot com slash newsletter. And now it's time for Bob.
I'm Laura Siegel and this is first contact bas. You

(03:06):
are called Bos. That's a nickname. That's the correct way
I should describe you. That's right. You're also welcome to
call me Andrew. I do respond to both names. From
time immemorial, people have preferred to call me BOS. Great
currently VP at Facebook Reality Labs. But you've been at
Facebook since two thousand and six, that's right, January nine,
two six. I love that you. By the way that

(03:29):
you know the date that you started, that's a big deal.
It was also two days after my birthday. I started.
I was my birthday January seven. Well, do you remember
your first day vividly? Yeah? Absolutely? And it was a
bunch of really great Facebook engineers joined at the same
time that I did, um Mark Slee, Dave Fetterman. It
was a fun time for us and quite a crazy change.

(03:51):
It came from Microsoft, and so going to this little
startup where like there was just no one even to
greet you just kind of wandered in and found yourself
a desk. It was was pretty different. What was your
first conversation like with Mark that day? What was the
first thing he had to do? We had to go
fix bugs, which is the tradition that continues to this day.
It was like, here's your desk, here's a computer, go
fix some bugs. Right. I mean, for folks who are

(04:12):
listening to the context is you're one of the first
fifteen engineers at the company and you help build news
feed messenger groups. So you have just been a part
of every major milestone of the company to to this day.
I've had a good fortune of working across a huge
breath of the company. Of course, there's always so much more,
a lot of things that I've have never gotten to
work on that that are great. Um, but I've I've

(04:35):
had I've had a really fun set of projects to
work on, connecting people and creating these communication tools that
people use every day. It's really satisfying and what an
extraordinary time to be sitting in your seat. And also
one of the things I love about you, having been
in the industry for a while and having followed the
company closely, is you're kind of one of the executives
that says how he feels um, which which us as journalists,

(04:59):
but just like people, we we really appreciate. But it
it is really fascinating because you've said some things throughout
the years um that always get a lot of attention,
But you are a person at the company, at a
big corporate company who's kind of known for saying how
you feel. Yeah, I think it's saying saying how I feel,
but also trying to bring voice to conversations that are
important is a bigger part of it. I think it's

(05:21):
tempting for any company that gets big to get comfortable
or to get into a habit of not asking the
hard questions. And I've always wanted to be someone it
doesn't matter if I'm just a regular employee or if
I'm an executive, I want to be somebody who invites
the hard questions, who's bring those to the surface to
make sure that we're always doing that work. And it's
never been more important than it is now. Yeah, I

(05:43):
want to get to to what you guys are announcing
and virtual reality and augmented reality, which I just think
is actually fascinating. You know. I think a lot of
times in technology, everybody has one conversation and we totally
don't look at the other way. And I think that
you're sitting and probably one of the most influential seats
at Facebook. Given everything that's happening, You're almost building out.

(06:07):
You are building out a new computing platform, You're building
out a new social world. And I don't actually know
if people realize what a big deal this is. You know.
I know people have been talking about VR for a
long time. PEO have been talking about augmented reality. I
know that that Mark has in his non New Year's resolutions,
he always posts on Facebook, and he did this year
in non news resolution where he posted something about augmented reality,

(06:30):
fast forward, pandemic remote work. It seems to me that
you have one of the most important roles at the
company right now. It's hard to gauge its importance. You know,
how would you waive the importance of new computing platforms
versus bringing greater integrity and privacy and security to existing platforms.
I think They're all important. I can certainly tell you

(06:51):
it's one of the most fun jobs at Facebook right now,
and I really want to double down. You said you
don't think people know how important this is. I could
not agree more. This is like the beginning of computing again.
You know, this is going back to the nineteen sixties
and nine seventies, when the computers that we know now,
even the ones we have in our pockets, really come

(07:12):
back to the same fundamentals that were designed way back
in the middle of the last century. And with VR
and a R suddenly it is a different paradigm. It's
not just flat two D windows that you directly manipulate somehow,
whether with your mouse or your finger. It's it's like
in the world there's a bunch of elements that the
computer can't control that has to adapt to. Not only

(07:35):
was that impossible previously from a standpoint of the displays,
which still don't exist yet, but we think they can,
the sensors all that. It's also the AI, the intelligence
you need to be able to be useful in that
kind of scenario. So it does feel like we're at
the beginning of a really big arc in progress for technology.

(07:57):
Whereas the mobile phone was maybe the end of the
last arc of progress, and that's exciting. But give me
to sell because like, I've been in this for a while, right,
And how many times have we heard people say, like VR,
the next big bet is VR, and and a R
and like you you would we both know that people
have been saying this for a really long time. I

(08:17):
think my instinct is saying no, no no, no. Something about
this actually feels kind of different. And maybe it's because
of all the external things happening with remote work and
with our reliance on screens and our craving humanity in
a different way, but something does feel different. So like Bozza,
give me the cell, Like VR hasn't really hit a pent.
Maybe you can argue with me on this um, but

(08:39):
but why now do you think this is the moment
for virtual reality augmented reality. Well, in the case of
virtual reality, you have the mobile phone. To think, mobile
phones created an incentive for technology to miniaturize, improve performance,
per what, improve things like cameras and make them smaller
and cheaper and higher fidelity, and improve things like displays

(09:02):
very very small, tightly packed displays. Without all that the
physics of virtual reality, which yeah, I have been around
since the eighties, were just unworkable. You know. Some of
the early VR headsets were so heavy they had to
be suspended from the ceiling by steel cables. They used
to call that the sword of Damocles because if it
fell off, it would kill you while you were using VR.
You know, today we've got Quest two waiting in lighter

(09:25):
than a generation that was launched just a year and
a half earlier, four times more powerful, more pixels, and
it's a hundred dollars cheaper. That is, you know, the
benefit that we have of working on a supply chain
that was really developed from mobile phones but works beautifully
for VR as well, not to mention tremendous wealth now
of three D content thanks to years of heavily investment

(09:48):
in the industry around three D gaming in particular. So
I do think it does feel differently. It reminds me
if you if you went back and you had like
a Palm pilot or you had a handspring. Those were
awesome devices and you could glimpse in those devices what
the iPhone will become, but they weren't the iPhone. I
think the previous generation of VR was kind of like
those Palm pilot Handspring type devices. Right, yeah, I get it, Like,

(10:12):
if you could do this, it would be cool, but
you can't do it yet. We can do it now.
It's exciting, Like it's here. If you've used it, you're like,
oh my gosh, this is it. This is what I've
been waiting for. Now you can use your hands. It
can be very natural augmented reality. We can see. But
we're like, it's We're still trying to solve some of
the fundamental physics problems, you know, like how do you
literally make certain wavelengths of light? How do you bend

(10:35):
those wavelengths of light in the right way? Um, So
we're at a little bit more of a fundamental stage
with a R, but the same technology should allow us
to cross the bridge. And also huge advances and wireless
technology are critical as well. Do you think when it
comes to the future, and I want to get into
specifically some of the platforms that you guys are launching
and what you guys just announced, But I mean, do
you think that the future of Facebook is um? You know,

(10:58):
I look at I look at the history of Facebook,
and I look at Instagram and What's App and all
of these different products that are owned by Facebook, um
to some degree that I've been integrated with Facebook. Do
you think that when we look at Facebook and ten
years and maybe this is just to kind of talk
about the stakes of this and to talk about how important, um,
you know, building out another world is and what will

(11:20):
come along with that. Do you think that these worlds
that you guys are building, the ones that we're about
to talk about, will be the kind of the next
dimension that in the next layer of Facebook that it
maybe ten years we might not even be on the
Facebook we know, will be in these different worlds that
you're building today. I love that you use the word
layers there, because that is how I think of it,

(11:41):
you know, I don't. We still make phone calls today,
and that's a layer of communication that we as a
society laid a hundred years ago the foundations for and
then we added text messaging, and we're increasing the speed
and the fidelity and the richness with which we can
exchange information when we're at a distance. Look, nothing is
as good as being in the same room as somebody

(12:01):
you love. You know, that's that's that's a high standard
to meet. But can it be better than VC? Today? Absolutely?
Like we can do better than this, um And I
think of the time about bowling, Laurie, have you ever
been bowling? Totally? I was on a bowling league when
I was younger. Just what a what a weird thing
for us a species to do. Can you imagine if

(12:22):
we sell like an ants go bowling or like a
dog bowling? It would be the greatest sensation of all times?
What we we? Why do we go? Both? We go?
You want to have something, just any excuse for us
to have a shared experience, to create memories, to have
an excuse to go to a place and be together.
And I think when you're in virtual reality. Look, I've
done a lot of you know, happy hours with friends

(12:43):
over portal and they've been great, but at some point
they kind of drop off the calendar because you don't
have a reason to do it. There's not like a
thing that anchors it. With virtual reality, with augmented reality,
you potentially do have those things, Do I think so?
Do I think that they replace Facebook as we know
it today? No, there's still plenty of opportunity there where
I want to either asynchronously communicate through sharing and broadcasting

(13:06):
or multicasting, or I want to communicate one on one
or do really richly. And by the way, video calling
for two people is pretty great. You can see my
full facial expression. It's really rich. You have a good
sense of my emotion. So there's a lot of all
that value still exists. There's gonna be new forms of
value um which yeah, I think a year ago would
have been maybe a tougher cell. But now that people
are in lockdown, their experience what it's like to be

(13:27):
in quarantine, you get it. It's like, oh yeah, and
that's for some people, for immigrants, that's what life is
like every day. They don't know anybody, Their loved ones
are far away, and that's there's something they can do
about it. So I really believe in this direction for
us as a society, and I think it's also important,
as we're seeing now for people who want to collaborate
at work. Yeah, you know, I remember I started covering

(13:49):
tech in two dozen and nine, right out of the
recession or two dozen and eight, and there was all
this innovation that happened because you saw that there's so
much broken and I think this experience even being on
zoom men and the fact that you know, I don't
think we'll go back to work in the same way
I thought. I hope we all go back to work
in some capacity, but some of this will remain, right,
these ideas of remote work. So there is a tremendous opportunity,

(14:11):
you know, for for these platforms. And I can see
that Facebook, you know, in many ways, wants to own that,
right And of course I think that comes with so
many interesting questions on the human side about what comes
along with with that, you know. But this experience right
now we have is pretty broken, right um, And I
think people are sick of the zoom apocalypse, and will

(14:32):
people you know, want to zoom when we're kind of
going back to work and what will be that in
between human connection? It seems like that's the thing that
that you're thinking about. Well, I also I also want
to clear like I don't know that I want to
own it. I just want to make sure there's space
for it. I mean, honestly, if you look at there's
lots of examples of technology that we use that we
don't primarily use to communicate and connect with people. And

(14:53):
this also goes back seventy years is a very deep
divide in the history of computation where some peop well felt, hey,
this is about a tool being useful for me as
an individual, and it would make me more powerful, And
there's people who said, no, no no, this is a tool
to connect with other people. That's why it's so incredible
that the night the Engelbart who debuted the computer mouse,

(15:14):
also debuted video conferencing and shared document editing. You know,
it was important to the early pioneers of the current
generation of computing that this be not just about oh,
I can do spreadsheets more effectively, but also enabling the internet.
Ethernet came out of a Zerox park like incredible leaps
forward in our ability to connect across distances, and for
us at Facebook, that is what we care the most about.

(15:36):
And I do legitimately worry that if we're not in
there at the pioneering stage of these new technologies, that
other technology providers will just cut that use case out
and it will still be great. Devices will be super
useful to you, but they won't help you connect with
other people. And so I don't need to own the
whole thing. I'm happy to play in a lot of
different systems. I need to make sure their space for

(15:58):
this really valuable work to happen, and we're the ones
who cared the most about it. And I want to
get into that, by the way, because I do think
this idea of connection has come along with complicated questions,
and so I want to talk about how you guys
are thinking about that as you build out a new
computer interface, as you build out these layers. But I
don't want to speak around. I want to talk specifics. UM.
You guys launched quite a bit, you made quite a
few announcements UM in the last couple of weeks with

(16:20):
Facebook Connects, So talk to me. I mean, let's start
with Horizon. I thought Horizon was super interesting. What exactly
is it? What's the experience like? And it's kind of
weird to talk about it over a podcast, but like
if you can just like close your eyes and pretend
like we're there and like describe to people what you
see when you're with Horizon, Yeah, I mean, Horizon is
a virtual world. It's got things to do. There's rooms,

(16:42):
there's spaces that hopefully a large community of creators can
build out more and more spaces, and those could be
performance spaces or if you wanted to be do an
artist or do poetry or do a performance. Those could
be a little game spaces, like a little laser tag game.
That could be a puzzle, you know, a little puzzle space.
Escape rooms are one of the popular early ones that

(17:04):
some of our internal devs have done. Again to my
point about Bowling earlier, it's a place where you and
I could go and just have a shared experience and
it's social. You've got an avatar. I've got an avatar,
and they're not high fidelity, but you do get that sense.
And we're all about Facebook Reality Labs. Is that sense
of presence, that sense that I am with somebody, that

(17:25):
sense of being with somebody and having an experience that
the two of you share together. And Horizon is. It's
just an open beta right now and it's pretty cool.
It's early yet, we're still kind of working out some
of the scaling issues and getting the avatar is just
right and getting the quality just right. Um, but yeah,
I know, it's it's a it's it's you can think
of it as a virtual space for people to go

(17:45):
and be together. More from Boss after the break, and
make sure you sign up for our newsletter at dot
dot dot media dot com Backslash Newsletter. We'll be launching
in October. You kind of touch on like this idea

(18:17):
of social VR right, um and and being able to
be around other people and be present with other people
and do things together. I always think that's fascinating and important,
especially now. But I also when I look at these
tech platforms being built, right, and you see the wonderful
videos and boss, you guys put these together, like so
you know them better than than anyone, like where it's

(18:38):
all the amazing things you can do together. And all
of a sudden you're in the virtual world and you're
playing games and you're building things. It's not like you
guys are putting warning and also x y Z right,
and you've got to be really careful as you're building
out a new dimension of some sort of new layer,
that you don't recreate many of the problems that you
have on Facebook O G platform because obviously you guys

(19:02):
have been dealing with many complicated issues over the last decade,
even you know, especially over the last five years. So
what are you thinking about as you build out a
new layer? Um, you know, what are the ethical issues
you're thinking about? What a kind of of the human
problems you're thinking about? Yeah, they run a huge range.
I mean here, we benefit so much actually from being

(19:22):
a part of Facebook, because we do stand on the
shoulders of all the lessons learned over the last ten
or fifteen years, working through the platforms that we've built there,
and we benefit from all the technology that's been deployed
around that. We also have a few additional advantages. For example,
in Horizon, which you just talked about, if there is
some kind of an abuse happening, you have the ability,
which is unique to virtual reality, to literally freeze the world,

(19:46):
find the offending individual and like disappear them, like that
person just doesn't exist for you anymore, and you get
to go about your day. And so you have a
lot of power in virtual reality to control your own experience,
which makes sense because you know, you it's all just virtual.
And so I think we've got two advantages on virtual
reality which are really valuable, one of which is you

(20:06):
have the history and technology that Facebook means to the table.
And the second one is the nature of the medium
is a little bit more empowering. And then you know
we o think we talked about it. Connect last week
is for example, project Aria. Project Aria is a research
vehicle that We're rolling out a hundred kind of hand
built pairs of glasses that have sensor packages on them.
They have outward facing sensors, they have inward facing sensors,

(20:28):
they have GPS, and you know, somewhere on the order
of a hundred Facebook employees and contractors fully trained are
going to be wearing them around in the Bay Area
in Seattle. And this is inviting, very intentionally inviting a
conversation about, Hey, what is the nature of what we
should expect or allow as a society when it comes
to these types of devices. To be clear about predator area,

(20:50):
we're being very careful with it. All data is quarantined
for three days. It gives us time to scrub any
faces that we blur faces, we blur license plates. We
don't use the data at all with those things. In
act um the people are wearing shirts, they're all identifiable.
But set aside the specifics, the more general question is like, hey,
augmented reality could be incredibly valuable in a really specific

(21:11):
use case. You know, we're we're partnering with Carnegie Malee
University to say, hey, could these help people who are
visually impaired navigate physical spaces? Right it's it's a device
that could help them be able to actually not see,
but navigate physical spaces more effectively than they could otherwise.
That's pretty good. But it's also got a bunch of

(21:32):
cameras on it that are gonna like see other humans
doing things in the world. Um, what is the impact
not just on the person wearing it, which is the
major focus when it comes to like mobile phones, what
is the impact to the people who aren't wearing it?
What is the impact to underserved or marginalized communities who
come into contact with this technology. And so there's really
tremendous opportunity for good and there's you know, obviously a

(21:54):
huge amount of risk. Well, we're now trying to start
that public conversation today last week I Suppo is so
that we because because we're years away from having a
consumer product out and so let's have it. Let's figure
it out as a society, what do we think is
a good trade off. What is an acceptable level of protection.
We're not going to get rid of all the harms,
but we can hopefully find a balance that we find

(22:17):
equitable as a society. Um. And so that's a really
big shift for I mean, for you covering Facebook for
ten fifteen years, you know, like that's a shift. We're
trying to get this stuff out way in advance of
when the product arrives so that there's no surprises, although
we all know you put a product out there and
just people misuse it, right, people use it in all
sorts of ways that will shock you. How could you
have seen that Russia was going to do what it

(22:38):
did for the election? Right? So it's almost also how
do you anticipate the unintended consequences? Yeah? So by definition,
I suppose you can't uh find all the unintended consequences,
but we can certainly do a lot of them. We've
really that's that's really the work that we've been doing,
certainly the last five years, really intensified the last three

(22:58):
where it's like, hey, hey, what are all the forms
of harm that you're gonna try to get from nation
state actors? You're right, we didn't weren't looking at nation
states before we are. Now, Uh, there is a list
of them. Will we catch all of them? No? But
I don't think consumers really hold people that standard. They
just want you to like control the obvious negative externalities.
You know, people you can make a mistake, you just

(23:19):
don't want to make it twice. And so for me
at least, I think we are trying to take all
those lessons learned we have we call the responsible Innovation Principles,
which are informed by the entire history of abuse that
we've observed on other platforms, and saying, Okay, let's run
everything we build through every single one of those types
of abuse and understand what the risks are, what the

(23:40):
opportunities are, and how to how to do our best
to mitigate. I mean, I think it's got to be
so fascinating to to be building this right now? Can
you take us, um, take us to the inside men
are you even you? I guess you're not in Menlo
Park right now? I mean, like you guys are I
guess take us to the virtual rooms that you guys
are discussing some of these issues, right. Like. I remember

(24:02):
covering a virtual reality a woman who had been harassed
in the virtual world, right and she talked about not
having the physical control to like push someone away, but
you hear people's voices. I mean that was insane to me,
boz right Like, and she talked about, you know, this
idea that she couldn't actually physically move someone away, and
they could continue to harass her, and and this was

(24:24):
the oculous and right, but it was again the game
developers hadn't really understood that harassment could actually happen like
this in this world. So, like, take me to the
behind the scenes conversations that you guys are having. Um
about these Like, are there anything specific that you guys
are talking about? I just feel like these jam sessions
because you you talk about how you are trying to

(24:44):
think through some of these scenarios before, they've got to
be pretty interesting. Um, take us to them. Yeah, I mean,
so you know, to use the horizon example just because
it's convenient. That's a scenario that we obviously did think through.
And in fact, one of the debates we have inside
is what is the distance that you can allow avatars
to get close to each other? Because for some people,

(25:04):
close talkers in virtual reality give them sense a sense
of unease, but for other people they want to be
able to do things like whisper quietly and have intimate conversations.
And so it's that's an example of a conversation we're
having right now inside the company of like, hey, like,
how much social distance is required in virtual reality for
like maximum comfort. When we get those situations, we air

(25:26):
on the side of comfort. You know. Obviously you have
to start by building. If you don't have a team
that's diverse, inclusive and equitable, then you're not going to
have even the eyes on the problems. You know. Uh.
One of the things that I think we were lucky
for early on is we had quite a few women
in the Oculus organization who were testing the headsets out.
It wasn't working for hair, it wasn't working for makeup.
So now we've got the accessory program for Quest two,

(25:49):
which should allow for a more diverse variety of hairstyles.
Mine is admittedly relatively easy to operate for those who
don't know I am bald, But but that's obviously not
a thing that you want to optimize your headset or
round um. So there's for you have to start with
the team. You have to create space for those conversations. Uh. Frankly,
A lot of it is also working with external parties,
with experts. You know, we announced to our FPS last

(26:11):
week for over a million dollars on understanding the impact
of technology like a R on underserved communities and unrepresenting communities,
and that's work. Why would you expect us at Facebook
to be able to do that work, Like you know,
we're not almost by definition and underserved community. We have
to be doing outreach in those spaces. You have to
be paying attention and inviting the criticism and the hard

(26:34):
conversation that comes. So it's three things, right. One is
like looking at historic harms that you observed. Those are
kind of the best cases. We know how to manage
those pretty well, and so you can talk through those.
The second one is having a team that's really agile
and able to hear and understand criticism as it's coming
in and internalize it. And then you also have to
have the reactive Okay, we didn't see this coming and
no one did, and something bad happened. How do we

(26:55):
adapt quickly? You have to have all three of those muscles,
and we do it different times. You know, I was
doing a kind it was some kind of demo. It
was at the Horizon dem is another demo I think
that you know. It was about kind of a virtual
work type space and they created an avatar for me,
and I mean, I swear to god, buzz like you know,
it was first of all, everyone's pantless, right, Like we

(27:19):
should just say that, right, yeah, legless, Okay, I mean
it's just I'm just saying, like it's a little everyone's legless,
and and I think like they made my body look
very strange, and as a woman, I was like, this
is just so weird. And it was all these dudes
around me, like talking to me about work, and it
was a very strange experience where, let me just say this,

(27:41):
like the person who sees the who can see the
future and see the point, was like, oh, this is
we're onto something real. But then I was saying to
myself as I was sitting there legless, sorry not pantless, legless,
like with my arms were like seven ft long, it
felt like. And I was surrounded by like tech kind
of tech bros who were speaking at me about, you know,

(28:02):
the future of work, and I could barely get things
to move all like this feels a little weird, you know,
So you gotta this is why I ask you about
these things, because I mean, I I do think it's
probably the future, and you've got to be kind of
thinking about the little things. If this is like the
world that we're building out that we will eventually in
some capacity be living in yea, so it sounds like

(28:24):
you land yourself in the uncanny valley. And you know,
it's unquestionable that you really need representations on digital spaces
to either be cartoonishly inaccurate where no one expects accuracy,
or like really accurate to the point that like you
really are proud of it. You know, listen, hey, you
know you may have combed your hair today. I oiled
my beard, like we did things to look presentable. And

(28:45):
this is just a video. Comments I'm not even sure
if anyone this is a podcast, like I made myself
look pretty in the face for a podcast, or this
is as pretty as I get for my apologies to
the audience, But like so so, of course people care
about how they present themselves in all spaces, digital spaces included.
You can do either deep pressure eyes, which is how
we've taken up the approachy taking with horizon and venue.
So far, it's very consistent. You know, it's in line

(29:07):
with the Facebook avatars that they've launched. It's all built
by this Facebook Reality Labs team. And then we do
have a vision to get from what we call codec avatars,
which are incredibly rich realistic reproductions of faces. Bodies are
pretty much always going to be estimated. Other than faces
and hands, humans don't really key in on specific details
that much about one another. Faces and hands is a

(29:29):
tremendously rich communication service. We're all tuned in our brains
to identify small movements in those things. The rest of
it we can kind of estimate. Legs are particularly hard.
I'm sitting down. Do I look short to you? I
don't know, Like, how do we want to play that?
Virtual spaces do have some challenges relative to the extra
degrees of freedom cause some challenges as well. Um, but

(29:50):
I do think, like you have to take that glimmer
and realize, honestly, it's not that far. I think we're actually, honestly,
we're seeing tremendous vertical adoption of virtual reality. It's early yet,
but that's how these things always start. And what I
like about it is the place that we are. It's
not a place free of problems. I don't like to
be in a place free of problems. It's a place
full of problems that I believe we can solve and

(30:12):
people will care when we do. That's where I like
to be. What do you what do you mean by that?
You consider news Feed when I when I first joined Facebook,
you know, I worked with Chris Cox and Roochie song
VI on news Feed, and we just knew it was
going to be a hit because the way that people
use Facebook before that was insane. They would click around profile,

(30:32):
the profile, the profile, the profile to see what had changed,
and we're like, oh, we can do better than this.
Messenger people were already doing so many kind of tricks
and hacks to try to get chat to work on
mobile phones, to get around SMS fees, which were monstrous.
Now looking back, think about SMS fees, What a monstrous
thing that was. How amazing is it that the Internet

(30:53):
has freed us from from like, you know, ten cents
of message nonsense, Like we're doing amazing. It's like I
like it when you're the big of something and you're like, oh,
this is not only kind of glimpse it. It's pretty good,
but I see a hundred things that can make it
even better. Right, That's where I think VR is VRS
like gotten good and I just see like a hundred
things ahead that can make it even better. Totally any

(31:13):
but go back to news Feed, right, I remember when
you guys launched news feed. A news Feed was the
one that everybody was like, Facebook is over right? Was
that was that the one that everyone was like, everyone
was very upset about it at first. I think you're
describing every change you've ever made in history. No, I
think I feel like news the protests was that the

(31:33):
whole way of the protests. News Feed was the first
thing that we had done that people. So I don't
want to overfit the curve. I think sometimes when people
really are upset, they really are upset, and sometimes when
they're upset, it's because there's been a change and there's
an adjustment period to that, and learning to distinguish those
two is part of the art I suppose of being
in these jobs. Let me give you my analogy for

(31:55):
news feed. We launched newsfeed even that the thing where
you're at a party and you know, everyone's talking, music stop,
everyone's loud, and then for whatever reason, like the music
gets cut, everyone's quiet, and the last thing that you
said is like it just hangs in the air and
everyone can hear it. That's what news feed was like,
Like we did that to everyone all at once because
everyone had been out there posting on walls and doing things,
and yet technically those things were discovered, but they didn't know.

(32:18):
They didn't think it would be discovered. And then we
like organized it differently, so we basically records scratched the
entire community. So from that takeaway, we didn't think, oh,
we did it perfectly ignore them. No, we're like, oh man,
we really screwed the roll up out. We needed to
tell them what we were doing, why we were doing it,
roll it out steadily, and like we didn't do that
back then, and so we learned from that. So each
time we really learned. Every time things happen, Okay, like

(32:41):
we screwed that up, let's like not make that mistake again.
Um so news feed. News Feed had like certainly a
very strong vistroal reaction. However, from a product standpoint, it
solved the problem we were solving for almost immediately, Like
we saw usage double kind of overnight and never go
back down. Because people we're having more success finding the

(33:02):
kind of they were looking for. They weren't having to
click around, like remember the entire center of homemade you
should just be like pokes, like number of pokes and
so creepy, like why did. I just feel like didn't
say like that's why you guys probably had too many,
too many men working at Facebook. I've never worked I've
never worked on Poke. I can't. But but let me

(33:25):
just say so, yes, news feed was so disruptive to everything.
And I'm not one to say like, you know, whoa
like they should have never had some Newsfeed changed everything, right,
It truly changed. It changed the web, and everyone at
first was kind of like, oh, you know, like we
we talked about that, you talk about kind of the
party where you did this all at once. I really
think that to some degree the stuff you're working on

(33:47):
and maybe maybe I could be completely wrong, but could
could have depending on timing and what kind of comes
out and and this moment we're in, like you know,
could have similar impact. Right, But but we can't deny
the last years. We can't deny the fact that, um,
news feed also, um, you know, let's not oversimplify this
and be like tech is good and bad, right, like

(34:08):
that news Feed also you know, created misinformation and people
are trying to figure out what truth is and there
are filter bubbles and you know, and people have talked
about the ad model of Facebook being you know, being
one of the most disruptive and terrible things ever so
so I mean it created this host of problems as well.
That doesn't mean it should have gone away or should
have never been done, but it did create this host

(34:30):
of problems. So as you sit there and what I
go back to, my first question is is one of
the most important seats at Facebook? Which I don't think
people maybe realize. And I'm just calling it one of
the most important seats because I think it's a very
important seat, Like you know, you gotta I'm I'm assuming
you've got to be thinking about it like this right,
like you've got to be thinking about it with the

(34:50):
same steaks as you guys did maybe with news Feed.
Am I is that incorrect to say? Or Am I
just being dramatic? I know you think sometimes I think
sometimes you think journalists are dramatic, But but but I certainly
feel passionate about that. I love the passion and I
think it's important, don't I don't think journals are dramatic.
I think journals are doing a great job. I think
we've got we live in tremendously interesting time, certainly much

(35:11):
more interesting than several decades that preceded it. Uh, and
it invites, it deserves the degree of public debate that
we're having on the issue. So so, you know, far
from it. I don't agree with a lot of what
you just said. And you know, earlier I think I
said the news feed was built by the core team
was three people Rouchie song v including there was more
women at the beginning Facebook, and people seemed to recognize
maybe you've seen a fictional film about it. Uh, don't

(35:34):
believe that that's fiction. Um setting up. So, I don't
agree with a bunch of things that you just said. However,
transitioning to the question of like, what is the thing
that we're doing quick the work that I'm doing right
now feels important? Yeah, in the capital I sense of
the word. I think it's important for society. I think
it's got tremendous opportunity for impact. Of course, it's very
hard to separate positive impacts from negative impacts, and and

(35:56):
thinking those through really rigorously is something that we we've
said publicly we weren't doing in the early parts of Facebook,
and we that clearly was a mistake. It's one that
we're you know, we're trying to correctify now with massive
investment um. That's when I get the benefit of It's
a mistake I don't plan to make again. It's a
mistake that we actually don't have to, you know, I
get to benefit from all the Facebook's learning on it

(36:18):
and their technological investment on it comes to bear. I
do think it's very different, though, You're gonna find very
different problems. You know. Uh, news Feed dealt primarily in information,
and it raises important questions about free speech and democracy
and who's allowed to say things that aren't true? Uh,
and who's allowed to say, you know, get distribution, who's
allowed to be listened to? Those are hard questions. The

(36:41):
problems that we'll deal with in in virtual realiing and
augmented reality are different. I don't think it's gonna be
at all like news Feed because unfortunately, even as affordable
as we've made Quest two at three hundred dollars, three
hundred dollars is a pretty far away from zero dollars UM,
and it's gonna take a long time for us to
continue to get this technology deployed. I'm worried about any
an access. I'm worried about Hey, can only rich people

(37:02):
get access to this technology? Which is potentially very empowering.
What's the problem that comes with that. That's novel, That's
not something that you have to deal with for Facebook.
Facebook has an absolutely wonderful consumer aligned business model that
allows us to deliver a tremendous amount of services that
used to cost ten cents a message for free. Uh,
And we don't think about that, maybe because we have
means and we're not thinking about all the people who

(37:24):
are benefiting tremendously. So those are the types of things
that do worry me a lot. And you know, obviously
we're not We're a different business and Apple. You know,
we're not charging on these headsets the amount that that
you know, someone trying to make margin on a business
would charge for them. So we are taking a different
approaches a consequence of that. UM. So, I think it's
very important technology. I think it's important to empowering a

(37:46):
workforce that's global, that doesn't have geographic or economic mobility.
If you follow ros Chetti's work first at Stanford and
now at Harvard. So I think it's important work and
I do take it very seriously, and I'm grateful for
the resources I have at Facebook that helped me do it. Better.
I think it's so interesting what you say when you
talk about the digital divide. I think that's probably one
of the most important things that's probably really on display

(38:10):
right now. I mean it's always been an issue, but
it couldn't be more on display right now. You know,
during the pandemic where people children are having to do
remote work. You know, there's that image of you know,
kids trying to get WiFi from a Taco Belt parking lot.
You know, you know, so I I wonder, I mean,
I do think you know, you talk about even the

(38:31):
future of work, and I've looked at the demo you
guys did. It's it's really interesting. You know, where you
put on the headset and you're you're and there's presence
and there's the ability to be around people. Um. But
but you're absolutely right, that's that's for some people. Um,
you know, in an increasingly divided world and what we're seeing.
So what do you what do you think is is

(38:53):
the solution? As you kind of weight into this, uh so,
a couple of things from a technological standpoint, uh, you know,
we are trying to do Actually, this is a huge
area investment for Facebook, as you know, you know, internet
that organ was on the premise of, like, hey, can
we get internet to more people at a more affordable price?
Um And it's it's wild to meet that that became

(39:14):
a controversial program in any sense. It is literally trying
to fill a gap that other companies and public services
have completely failed to fill, leaving people in a very
precarious position as it relates to access to information, which
ultimately you and I agree is probably access to education,
two jobs, to a bunch of other pieces potentially to mates. Like,
it's a huge issue. Um and and that's one that

(39:35):
I that we're passionate about as a company. Uh, there's
things that we can kind of do. So one one
example I just saw recently, for example, video calling. This
kind of video calling takes a tremendous amount of bandwidth.
You have to have not just an Internet connection, but
a very good Internet connection to sustain this over time.
Um And my heart goes. You know, I have a
kindergartener who's on Zoom right now. I think, and can

(39:56):
you it's hard enough right now for him, a five
year old, to be in a Zoom class. Can you
imagine if the video is cutting out, it's choppy, He's
not allowed to he can't contribute because when he mute
it's too late and they can't draw. It's awful. So
something that we could do, for example, we've we've seen
demos internally where um, we can use the type of
technology that powers deep fakes, which we're concerned about and

(40:17):
doing a mutch of detection on but instead says, hey,
what if we recreate a little point cloud of your
face and then transmit very lightweight over the wire and
then reconstitute on the other side so that you can
actually have richer, more lifelike video communication at lower bandwidth.
That's the kind of research that my team is doing
that I think could have a huge impact on our
ability to communicate richly under a range of conditions. And indeed,

(40:41):
if you look at our responsible innovation principles, things like
how does this behave in low bandwidth conditions? How does
this affect those who are economically disadvantaged is one of
the things that we look at. UM. So, yeah, this
is an area that's that we're all passionate about it.
Facebook and I think probably as an entire industry. More
from Boss after the break, and make sure to subscribe

(41:01):
to First Contact wherever you listen to your podcast so
you don't miss an episode. I'd be curious to know

(41:25):
you talked about Kodek avatars earlier. Not to keep out
over these things, but I mean for folks who are listening,
you should like go look at this. It is really
um fool your mother. We got to work on the
insides of mouths. That's what gets you. As soon as
someone starts opening their mouth, like, Okay, that's face, can
you like describe it? Like if we were in VR,
and like it's like I would be seeing you, but

(41:46):
it really looks like you right, Like are extremely lifelike
reproductions of somebody's face and the musculature that powers their face.
And what hopefully allows us to do is have really
hyphid the interactions with lots of people at low bandwidth
because we're not actually sending a video of your face.
We're sending a small number of key points and machine

(42:09):
learning metadata that allows us to reanimate the avatar of
you on the other side. And like I said, there's
a famous concept the uncanny valley, where you want if
things are kind of lifelike, that's very bad. They either
need to be clearly representational or pretty literal and codec
avatars are clearly over the uncanny valley. They are on

(42:30):
the other side, they are clearly good enough. The challenge
we have codec avatars is generating them. Right now, it's
like a thirty minute of you saying funny phrases that
get your mouth to animate certain things and expressing certain emotions,
and like a camera capture rig to get to a
codec avatar that's always noting that scalable. Can we get
to it where you can just take ten pictures with

(42:51):
your phone at home and we can do it that way.
So we've got to do a lot to miniaturize that
and and hopefully deploy it as something that people, anyone
could do. Over a messenger, you could say, hey, like
I'm you know, I didn't I didn't have time to
shave today. I'm I'm a mess Let me just get
my codic avatar in the game and animated that way
for this conversation. Or maybe I'm in a low band

(43:11):
with area, or maybe there's gonna be a lot of
people in the call and it's gonna start to break down.
And then obviously as you moved to virtual or augmented spaces,
it's the only way to work. You know, how how
else am I going to get somebody to have a
fireside conversation with me if I don't have some kind
of representation that looks like them and causes me to
feel like, wow, we're having a meaningful talk right now. Yeah,

(43:32):
I mean I can see the virtual space, you know,
the workspace. It's kind of like, it is really kind
of hard to take someone seriously if they're kind of
like a human pickle or something. You know what I'm saying,
Like it it is hard, it's so real. So I'm
I have a weekly meeting in virtual reality in kind
of one of our infinite infinite office prototypes. I had
it on Monday, and literally my team just like it's
doing themselves. Like one of my one of my team

(43:54):
members fight as he comes in wearing a Santa shirt,
Santa Claus like outfit and like a Captain Cook hat.
Another guy came with red mohawk and appear we are
having serious work conversations about serious topics. But at some
point you're like, it is hard to focus when that's
going on range, So we we really want to keep
driving on Kodak avatars well, and so so let me
ask you with Kodak avatars, it looks so real, like

(44:16):
could someone, Um, this is where I ask you like
deep fix, like could someone take my identity and and
turn themselves into me with a Kodak avatar in the
virtual space? Like not to get too black mirror on you,
but you know, I think you guys have to anticipate
these types of things, like could I pretend to be
boss assume your identity with my Kodak avatar. This is
exactly the kind of threat bacter I'm talking about when

(44:36):
I say, yeah, we this is obviously worried about. We're
thinking of ways to ensure that you have unique possession
of it. This is actually an area that I think
we have pretty strong ability to create guarantees because the
Kodak avatar will be somewhat computationally specific in terms of
what it takes to create it. Like, I don't think
other people will very readily in the near term be
able to kind of create their own kodec avatar version

(44:58):
of you. Um, And so we'll be the kind of
store and ensure it's just for your exclusive access. I
don't think we'll allow the loaning of avatars anytime soon. Um,
deep fixture a little different, right, because they start with
a footage that's already in public and and that's something
that you know, we've talked a little bit. That's more
of SHREP and the AI team are focusing on that.
How do you ensure the providence of an image is

(45:20):
certainly one of the open areas of investigation, not just
for Facebook but for the industry, to kind of ensure
that we have greater idea sense of providence of an image,
that it's real and hasn't been tampered with. I mean, God,
the applications, and I don't want to get into it
because we don't have too much time, but I mean
even thinking about, like you know, the future of death
and mortality and remembrance and with Kodak avatars, I mean,

(45:41):
there's so many interesting use cases I'm imagining you guys
could use, especially since you guys have so much data
on our our lives and and so much about us.
I don't know, I just it's it certainly seems like
there's a lot there. There's there's yeah, I think there's
real potential there. You know. One of the things that
we do is we're working with Stanford on a project to,
for example, do really rich volumetric captures of historic sites

(46:05):
for those who have been paying attention over the last
twenty years, in particular, under some regimes like the Taliban,
really amazing historic sites have been destroyed systematically and intentionally,
and that's a loss for historians, it's a loss for children,
it's a loss for people who would like to go
see and experience that thing for themselves. So we are
already trying to do those things. I recently saw a paper,

(46:26):
not from Facebook, of somebody recreating what they thought the
using machine learning to see what the Roman emperors actually
looked like, as you know, using their sculptures and working backwards.
And there's an appetite for those things. So the idea
of having like that kind of potentially biograph autobiographical exposure
to people who are both living and deceased is very
interesting to me. I want to go back to Project

(46:48):
Area because we just kind of brushed over it. I mean,
it's so it's really interesting. Um, can you give us
really quick what exactly it is? Um? One more time?
And I just want to dig into it a teeny
bit more. Yeah, I mean, it looks like a pair
of conventional glasses, except that you'll notice it's got cameras
facing outside. Uh, it's got cameras facing towards the wearer's eyes.

(47:08):
It's got a GPS, and it's connected to you know,
an app. The researcher who's wearing it has no access
to the data, and it provides them no value, Like,
they get nothing out of this except that we pay
them to to wear it around what we get as
a as a Once it's once it's been scrubbed and
quarantined and cleaned of identifying data, then we get to
use it to validate you know, what sensors do we

(47:29):
need to provide augmented reality? For example, why do you
need outward facing centers at all? For two reasons, one
of which is to locate you in space, you know,
us being able to put somebody in the sidewalk in
front of you as a codec avatar. We have to
know where the sidewalk is. Otherwise their feet are gonna
be they're gonna be floating and their fee you're gonna
be under the sirve. It's not gonna look correct, and
you're gonna take take your reality. You know, you're not
gonna believe it you want to play a genda game

(47:51):
on the table. How do you do that if you
don't know where the table is? And when I pull
a piece out and I drop it. I need to
know what the world looks like. So I need to
be able to localize you in space and understand the topography.
The second thing is it's potentially very useful. You know,
if I'm walking up to a restaurant and I'm looking
at the menu. Oh, my friend took a picture of
one of these menu items, can we overlay that? Like,

(48:11):
so it's potentially useful from a you know, giving you
value of wearing these glasses person of view once they
have a display, which is obviously where we're planning planning
to go. At the same time, they raise these tremendous questions, Hey, like,
who else is this video taking? Like do I have
access to the camera feed? Can I post photos from it?
Can the government subpoena access to the camera feed? You

(48:32):
know what are tremendously deep questions for us. We have
a goal of understanding. Hey, we want to kept One
thing it's really nice is we want to capture as
little data as possible. The reason is data capture is
very expensive data capture in aug the reality glasses, they're tiny,
they're gonna fit in your face. We don't have that
much battery, we don't have that much compute. We have
to dissiplate thermal energy without burning you, so we don't

(48:54):
have that much thermal space. So we would like to
capture as absolutely little data as possible to deliver great
experiences to you. So with these research glasses, we're trying
to figure out, Hey, how much data do we need
to deliver these experiences? What is different about ecocentric data?
You know, you can't we can't just use data from,
for example, cars that have been driving around forever street view,
because it turns out when you're on the sidewalk, you're

(49:16):
walking under trees and there's different lighting conditions. It's not
the same. So with how does it perform in different
weather conditions? How does it perform with a human wearing
it who are constantly taking it on, taking it off,
doing different things with it, fussing with it. How often
is it getting smudged? How often is it like the
video quality compromise? Can we even detect that? The huge
amount of questions that we need to answer, you know,
and we want to answer them now years before the

(49:38):
technology is actually a consumer device. So for us, we've
got technological questions, that's one goal, but we've also got
social questions and kind of frankly societal questions about the
the use and benefit of these technologies versus the trade offs. Yeah,
I saw one person was saying, um, you know, there
are proactive steps that we should be taking, um, declaring

(49:58):
biometric data's health DYTA, legislating more consumer protections, making privacy
choices simpler and better informed. What do you think? I
don't know the specifics that you're referring to. I don't
know enough about what it means for something to be
health data or not. I do think that fundamentally, uh,
as Facebook has been saying for a while, we'd like
to have a unified privacy you know, legal framework that

(50:19):
we can work within. Uh. You know, Facebook has been
really open about this, Like, you want legislation, You want
legislation written by people who understand technology enough for this
legislation to make sense, which isn't always a guarantee. And
so we are like very in favor of kind of
a legislation that makes clear how to handle things like
face recognition, which you see as a patchwork right now,

(50:40):
it's coming up, you know, Illinois and Portland. Patchworks are hard.
That's like really hard to deploy scale technological solutions too.
It's hard to invest all of our energy and getting
it right when there's like four or five different jurisdictions.
And that's just the United States, let alone in Europe.
And so I think for us, like, yeah, the more
clarity we have, I'm like, hey, here's the data framework,
here's the privacy framework, here's what's allowed, the happier I'm

(51:03):
going to be because I can put a dent of
my engineering resources on executing on that. I literally like
don't know the specifics that to say that I want
to have a more unified framework. We do have teams
who are spending a lot more time than I am
on on trying to like make sure that there's some
progress there. You have something called personal ap I. I've
read something you wrote about personal API and learning when

(51:24):
to say no. Can you talk to us about your
your personal API? And then and then I want to
talk about the last time you said no. Yeah. So
personal API is just about we like we exist in
these ecocentric bubbles where our worlds are so clear to us,
and we sometimes don't understand why other people why it's
not clear to other people who are around us, and

(51:44):
like why should it be clear? You have to tell them, like, hey,
here's who I am, Here's what I'm trying to accomplish,
you know. For for me, it's like, hey, I used
to have these really strong visions of myself in one light,
and it was hard for me when people would, even
if they were complimenting me, they would compliment me in
a way it didn't align with my internal vision that
was That was a miss I find like talking openly about, Hey,

(52:05):
you know, I like to work on technology that allows
people to connect. It turns out I like to work
on that technology across the huge range. It doesn't you know.
I can do it in broadcast, multicast, one on one,
virtual reality. I like building things that then to other
people can find some connection on that. It's very satisfying

(52:26):
to me and it's what I've dedicated myself to doing
and I enjoy that. And the more people understand that's
where I'm coming from, the easierness to work with me,
the easierness to understand me. And I think Facebook, you know,
we can do a better job as a company. Hey, Like,
we're trying to connect people, and there's we got to
do a better job of getting rid of the bad stuff,
but there's a lot of stuff that we really value,

(52:47):
and we got to figure out how to write the
distribution between those things. So I write a lot about
these things for the benefit. Honestly, these are almost always
hard learned lessons for me. What ends up happening is
I screw up something up for ten years and then
I finally have an epiphany or somebody coaches me God
bless and says, hey, you're screwing this up, and then
I'm like, oh right, And then I try to write
it so that hopefully somebody else gets that epiphany a

(53:09):
little sooner than I did. Um. You know, that's definitely
been the story of my career is is making mistakes
off and out in public, often in embarrassing ways, learning
from those and trying to help other people with them.
And so I actually I wrote two notes. I wrote
one called say yes, and I wrote one called say no.
It's intentional. I have these. I love working at these,
like balances. A lot of times people are too instinctive
to say no because I'm busy. They're not saying no

(53:30):
it's a bad idea. They're just saying no, I'm not
ready to hear a thing right now. And then you
just say yes. How at the same time, just as
often people want to say yes to everybody because it
feels good to say yes. But at some point you
say yes to so many things, you start letting people
down because you can't do all the things. And so
sometimes the most the best way to show respect to
somebody say hey, I'm sorry, I can't I'm not gonna
do it, or or not I'm not interested in it.

(53:52):
You know, I'm just saying. I'm just saying not interested
in At the risk of getting myself in trouble with
some of your peers, I say, I say no to
interviews that I want to do, interviews that I would
love to do, people who want to get me on
the podcast, people who want to get me, and I
just say no. You know, I can't commit to it
because I take the stuff seriously, uh, and I want
to put my time and make sure that every one
of these I do is is quality. You'll you'll get

(54:14):
to tell me how I did on that um. And
so I do say no other people. But I said
yes to you, So it's not all bad news. Um.
One of the things I've always thought it was interesting.
I mean, when you talk about mistakes, you know, you
you talk about learning from your mistakes. And I know
we hear a lot of executives who talk about mistakes
and they've learned, and we hear the company line over
and over again. But but I think the thing that

(54:34):
people crave more than anything is just humans, right, and
people just to be human. Um. And I think that
goes for a lot to like, maybe you could just
be human with us for a moment. What do you
think is like the biggest mistake you've made. Oh, it's
it's easy. It's it's that stupid memo, the ugly memo

(54:55):
that I wrote years back. Um, you know, I wrote
a thing. It was It was pursuing to a bunch
of internal conversation stations which have since been lost to time.
It was relevant to them, it made sense in the
context of what they were. But I wrote it glibly.
I wrote it. I think I wrote it like five
minutes I took. I didn't edit. No one reviewed it.
I put it up there. People hated it. It had
a discussion that I thought was valuable. It was like,

(55:17):
it's like that's you know. I was like, I was
like cool, like kick that discussion off, like let me
move on, you know. And and it really is a
part of an instance. I've actually since gone back and
written what I had intended to write the first time.
The second one I wrote was like thoughtful. It was
really nuanced. It had all the points. Of course, no
one cared about that one because that was not this

(55:37):
like glib kind of shoot from the hip thing. I
think sometimes people confused, uh, you know, being like uh
controversial as like authenticity. That's not authenticity. My authentic self
is incredibly nuanced. You know. I have layers upon layers
of feelings about things, and sometimes they conflict and I
want to work through them and all the meaningfulness. Um

(55:58):
and so I actually when when that leaked, and it
was really you know, uh embarrassing for me. It was
embarrassing for the company. And I was still to this day,
you know, I think back on and how foolish it
was to have written it in the first place the
way that I did. Um. I wrote to the company,
I said, Hey, the solution to this isn't for me
to write less. It's for me to write more is
to not give the glib, hot take one liner that's like,

(56:21):
you know, punchy and gets a reaction. It's to write
the thoughtful, nuanced thing. Um. And so yeah, no, I
you know, you live and learn. It's it's a it's
an embarrassment to me still and I think it will
be uh to the end of time. But it can
also be a valuable lesson to me and to others.
And I've tried to turn that into something positive. Um.
But you know, you know, I do tend to wear

(56:42):
my mistakes on my sleep. I do think we live,
to your point, Laurie, in an age of authenticity, an
age where when we see something that's perfect, we almost
want to tear it down more when we see imperfections.
It's more relatable, it's more understandable, it's more real, and
we trust that a little bit more. And well, at
least I'm hoping that's the case, because that's I'm a
case study of it. So what do you you talk

(57:02):
about the how that's not the authentic Q, but the
authentic Q is thinking about some of these things in
a much more nuanced way. Um, what are you thinking
about now that that you would say is the more
appropriate bas memo now? Right? Um? What what is what
is the thing you're doing on now that that you
just think is super important um and and needs attention

(57:22):
and needs debate and needs discussion. Yeah for us, you know,
I think there's two pieces one of you know, from
the body of work that the world is exposed to
right now that I've put out. I think it's just
a question about the nature of democracies in general. You know.
I think a lot of times these things are couched
in terms of free speech, and sometimes we're the ones

(57:42):
who who use that language. For me, it's about democracy.
It's it's like, hey, you know, um, who's allowed to
have an opinion? Are people allowed to be wrong? Uh?
Should we return to an era of central gatekeepers? Who
watches the watchers? You know? It's it's a tremendous challenge
and and it's a it's an area that I see
a lot of nuance myself, and I don't see as

(58:04):
much nuance um in the public sphere and the conversation
around it. It's it's it's partisan all the way to
the bottom. And listen, I'm partisan in a way you
know I have politics. They're not hard to discover for
those who look but like I do also believe in democracy,
and I'm torn on some of these issues that sometimes
my liberal brethren find so cut and dry. I'm a

(58:26):
little more anxious about eventually taking that power and putting
it in the hands of the other side when the
democracy swings the other way. UM. So that's one set
of things where I I wish we had a little
more nuanced collectively in the conversation. I'm not the only
one there, um, and this probably isn't the time for it.
I'm saying this to you because you asked the question,
but I don't think right now. National voter Registration Day,

(58:48):
everybody go out and registered to vote. I realized that
this won't be done today. So every time, whatever time
it is, voting the next election, you can UM. But
like I RESI it's not the time right now for
that conversation, and I'm not put it, but it is
in my head and it's something that I think about
UM day to day. Though more operably for me is
is thinking about how to get this technology out to people,
you know, um uh, making it more accessible, making it

(59:11):
more universal, um, making it more user friendly, making it
so it doesn't feel weird to you to be in
a conversation with people, making it so that you do
feel like your virtual self as a representation of your
real self and you're comfortable with that. UM there. Like
I said before, this is my favorite part of working
on products. It does feel like the beginning of news Feed,

(59:32):
or the beginning of of the ads work that I did,
or the beginning of Messenger, at the beginning of groups.
It feels that way. It feels like the potential is here.
I can see it, I can feel it, I experience
it every day. How do I get it to everyone?
Everyone should have this power, everyone should have this opportunity. Um.
And so that's where I am day to day. So
that tell me, I mean you you have. You've been
in the war room at Facebook, um first since two

(59:54):
thousand and six. The high is the loads of criticism,
the moments. You know all of it and we know
there's been tons of it. Um, why do you do
what you do? It really for me comes down to
a joy at these small experiences that were not possible
before that are possible now. Uh, two people connecting and

(01:00:17):
I don't judge other people's motivations. For some people, they
want to empower uh, civilizations and revolutions, and some people
want to just tell their mom and have their mom
be using something. And some people want to be famous
and they want to be in the news. I don't
know why I those none those things really motivate me
very much. The only thing that I really find every

(01:00:39):
day get up is like, hey, there's some people who
tomorrow will do a thing that was not possible before
I did the work that I do, and that is
immensely satisfying for me. I guess I'm a little bit Uh,
I'm a little bit thought about legacy, leaving something that
outlasts me, having done some thing that leaves some kind

(01:01:01):
of impact on the world. The only impact in the
world that matters is the impact you have on the
people of the world and making their lives a little
bit better. Uh. And I get a chance to do
that every day, and it's pretty dang fun. Thin give
you a Facebook for for life or you a Facebook life? Well,
if Mark's asking, no, you know, um, I'm really happy,
you know. I certainly it can't predict more than a

(01:01:23):
few years out in my life, but so far, at
every turn, I found more new and exciting work that
kept me deeply engaged. So you know, I really am
as excited today as I was that first day January nine,
two thousand and six. For more from dot dot Dot,

(01:01:48):
sign up for our newsletter at dot dot dot media
dot com backslash newsletter. We're launching in October with an
exciting guest and topic, a prominent Silicon Valley founder who
believes the toxicity found on the biggest platforms could be
avoided simply by taking a stance from the get go.
He says that tech shouldn't be neutral, it should be opinionated.

(01:02:09):
It's a fascinating take, and follow along on our social media.
I'm at Lorie Siegel on Twitter and Instagram and the
show is at First Contact Podcast on Instagram. On Twitter,
We're at First Contact Pod and if you like what
you heard, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or
wherever you listen. We really appreciate it. First Contact is
a production of Dot dot Dot Media executive produced by

(01:02:30):
Laurie Siegel and Derek Dodge. This episode was produced and
edited by Sabine Jansen and Jack Reagan. The original theme
music is by Xander Singh. First Contact with Lorie Siegel

(01:02:54):
is a production of Dot dot Dot Media and I
Heart Radio.
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