A recent report on The Economist about Facebook makes clear that the ever-present social network is now more, much more, than simply the sixth most valuable company on Earth and the (virtual) place where humanity spends a significant fraction of its time.
What started simply as a social network, doomed to perish (many believed) as many other social networks, turned into “one great empire with a vast population, immense wealth, a charismatic leader, and mind-boggling reach and influence“, according to The Economist.
But, more relevant to the topic of this blog, is the fact that Facebook has amassed immense knowledge and created the tools necessary to explore it, in the process making enormous sums of money from targeted advertising.
As artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics advance, companies like Facebook and Google can explore better and better the troves of data they have, in a process that may end up with the engines behind these companies becoming truly intelligent and, who knows, even conscious. Maybe one day Facebook will become not just the place to meet friends, but a friend. The investments made on chatbot and virtual reality technologies certainly show that we have not yet seen all the social network can do.