If you recall, back in April of this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled his grand 10-year roadmap showing what Facebook will become by the year 2026. Facebook’s (or Mark’s) conceived future is to connect almost everyone in the world to the internet wherein people can talk to each other and connect with each other across the world as if they were in the same room. At the same time virtual reality will also give humans the chance to talk to artificially intelligent computers. Facebook moved the marker on all this forward just a little bit more this week by demonstrating details on how the social network will operate in its ideal virtual reality future. In the said demo, Zuckerberg showed off “Social VR,” using a combination of the Oculus Rift headset and a 360-degree camera to mash together virtual reality and the real world like never before. The feeling was a little bit creepy, like the AI used in Ex Machina, but it provided a fascinating glimpse of the radical changes to technology that is coming in just the next decade or two. But Facebook is not alone in all this.
Just this week Google held its own big event to introduce new hardware, paving the way for Google’s own 10-year strategy that may in some ways overlap with Facebook’s. Some people might say that this may not be possible given both company’s core businesses are quite different. Facebook has so far epically failed in search engine technology while Google’s attempts at social networking have virtually become the butt of jokes in Silicon Valley. But it’s the fight in the sidelines that may later on become more visible and obvious. For instance, it is undeniable that Google’s YouTube is the undisputed ruler of the web video, but Facebook has been attracting media brands and advertisers with its video offerings such as Facebook Live. And even more frightening is that both Facebook and Google are now venturing into futuristic and far-reaching technology on the side of hardware and applications, ventures that are sure to overlap in the very near future.
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In just the past two weeks, Google has been studying, researching, and developing using artificial intelligence to build a personal Google for each and every user. On Facebook’s side, it is also developing and investing in artificial intelligence to personalize Facebook and its news feeds to specific users. In the realm of hardware, Facebook is developing its Oculus virtual reality through the Social VR, while Google is developing its own Daydream View Headset. Facebook is also trying to expand its VR movies as a direct challenge to YouTube’s video advertising. And while Facebook is trying to develop self-piloting laser drones, Google is using pilotless balloons in order to connect underserved parts of the globe to the internet by accessing Wi-Fi. We all know that in the battle for top technology, there will always be winners and losers. But this isn’t a battle like the smartphone wars that can be won with only one product release or one website or app design release. It’s a technology war that will be fought in spurts over many years to come.