Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg warns Harvard graduates that automation will take over their jobs

Zuckerberg urges millennials to create their own opportunities when speaking at Harvard University

Mark Zuckerberg returned to collect his honorary doctor of laws degree last week after dropping out 12 years ago.  He addressed the class of 2017 during his visit, encouraging them to tackle major, ambitious “public works” projects to create new jobs that bring together masses of people for the general benefit of society, as millions of jobs are likely to be replaced by automation such as self-driving cars and trucks in the near future.

The Washington Post highlighted some key point of his speech: “You’re graduating at a time when this is especially important,” Zuckerberg said in the prepared remarks. “When our parents graduated, purpose reliably came from your job, your church, your community. But today, technology and automation are eliminating many jobs. Membership in communities is declining. Many people feel disconnected and depressed, and are trying to fill a void.”

“We walked this yard less than a decade apart, studied the same ideas and slept through the same lectures,” his speech said. “We may have taken different paths to get here, but today I want to share what I’ve learned about our generation and the world we’re building together.” The main theme of his speech urged young people to create a world where “everyone has a sense of purpose” by looking beyond their own needs.

“I’m not here to give you the standard commencement about finding your purpose,” the speech said “We’re millennials. We’ll try to do that instinctively. Instead, I’m here to tell you finding your purpose isn’t enough.”

Regarding the public projects, Zuckerberg noted that previous generations have their own “defining works” – the Hoover Dam, the space programme, the fight against polio – that brought people together and gave them a sense of accomplishment and worked for the greater good.

“To keep our society moving forward, we have a generational challenge – to not only create new jobs, but create a renewed sense of purpose,” he said. “So what are we waiting for? It’s time for our generation-defining public works. Let’s do big things, not only to create progress, but to create purpose.”

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