In a display of religion meets technology, Pope Francis was presented with a drone by Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg, whom the latter visited as part of his visit to Italy in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. While the drone was not a working prototype, and was a model of Facebook’s solar-powered Aquila aircraft that will hopefully provide the world with internet someday, everyone got the message the meeting was meant to convey.
The Facebook founder, who is visiting Italy in the aftermath of a powerful, 6.2-magnitude quake last Wednesday that killed hundreds of people, visited the Pope at the Vatican. The two, one the supreme authority of a 2000 year old religion with over a billion follower, and the other, the progenitor of a network that also has billions of followers, had some important and meaningful talks. The topics on the table included the importance of connecting people, particularly in parts of the world without internet access.
Speaking about the visit, Zuckerberg said,
Priscilla and I had the honor of meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican. We told him how much we admire his message of mercy and tenderness, and how he’s found new ways to communicate with people of every faith around the world.
The Zuckerbergs also talked shared their work with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative that is an organization helping people around the world.
Speaking about the Visit, Vatican press office director Greg Burke said,
Together they spoke about how to use communications technology to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter, and to communicate a message of hope, especially to the most disadvantaged.
Apart from meeting the religious head of Christians, the Facebook CEO also visited the Political head of the country, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. The Former also hosted a Q&A Townhall in Rome.
As part of the Facebook AI Research Partnership Program, we’re providing 26 state-of-the-art GPU servers to research institutions across Europe — including one to the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia here in Italy. They’ve got a great artificial intelligence and computer vision program, and this new technology will hopefully help students and the faculty do even more.
Well, that is a pretty generous donation. The computers will prove a great help for research in areas such as computer vision, learning systems, deep neural networks etc. The recipients include IST Austria, Ecole normale supérieure (ENS), Département d’Informatique, France, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy and various other colleges.
The Facebook AI Research (FAIR) team will also work with recipients to ensure they have the software required to run the servers as well as directly collaborate with them in their ongoing research efforts.
Meanwhile, Zuckerberg’s Italy tour is also remarkable in a lot of other ways. Visiting countries after natural disasters is not something usually done by Company CEOs, however, considering Mark Zuckerberg and the role his company is playing across the planet — which was just social network once, but is rapidly expanding today, maybe you can’t really compare him to the average CEO of an average company.