Donald Trump may be the first U.S. president with no prior political or military experience, but clues from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg suggest he might not be the last.
Zuckerberg has regularly publicized his New Year’s resolutions in recent years—learning Mandarin, running 365 miles, reading 25 books—and 2017’s involves doing a tour of the U.S. with the stated aim of making “the most positive impact as the world enters an important new period.”
The 32-year-old billionaire hopes by the end of the year to have visited and met people in every U.S. state. The pledge comes after court documents revealed that Zuckerberg has made provisions to keep control of Facebook if he works for the government, leading to speculation that he plans to someday run for president.
To run for president in the United States, a candidate must be at least 35 years old, meaning Zuckerberg is still three years short of even being eligible. However, unless President-elect Donald Trump is impeached, assassinated, or otherwise leaves office, Zuckerberg will be old enough to run in the next presidential elections in November 2020.
The rhetoric used in his public Facebook posts often point to ambitions beyond simply growing and developing the world’s largest social network. On the night after Trump’s victory, Zuckerberg wrote: “Holding [daughter] Max, I thought about all the work ahead of us to create the world we want for our children.”
He concluded: “We are all blessed to have the ability to make the world better, and we have the responsibility to do it. Let’s go work even harder.”
As the sixth richest person in the world, Zuckerberg is more “blessed” than most and would easily be able to fund his campaign, while running a platform used by more than a billion people would presumably make reaching out to potential voters relatively easy.
If Zuckerberg does decide to run, he might not even be the outsider candidate. Self-proclaimed “thought leader” Kanye West has threatened on several occasions to make a bid for the White House in four years, after first announcing his decision in a rambling monologue at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2015.
When questioned about his political ambitions by BBC Radio 1 in November, West said: “When I talk about the idea of being president, I’m not saying I have any political views. I don’t have views on politics, I just have a view on humanity, on people, on the truth. If there is anything that I can do with my time to somehow make a difference while I’m still alive, I’m all for it.”
If Transhumanist Party candidate Zoltan Istvan has his way, Zuckerberg may not even be the most tech-minded candidate. Istvan believes 2020 could be the first year that an artificial intelligence robot competes for president.
“Historically, one of the big problems with leaders is that they are selfish mammals,” Istvan told Newsweek in an interview last year. “An artificial intelligence president could be truly altruistic. It wouldn’t be susceptible to lobbyists, special interest groups or personal desires.
“I think in 2020 you will see a field emerge with competing AI robots for president, who want to debate and discuss policy. It’s unlikely any of them will be sophisticated enough to take on the job, but I do believe by 2028 robots may be suitable for political office—including the presidency.”
Zuckerberg vs. West vs. a robot. At least the debates would be interesting.