science / Tech

Facebook’s Zuckerberg: Promotes Coding and Funds Science

Mark Zuckerberg talks of early coding days, @code.org video

Mark Zuckerberg talks of early coding days, @code.org video

San Francisco, CA: Mark Zuckerberg is on a role of showing his love for not just tech, but (finally!) life sciences too. This week a video that was going all over the internet, showed Zucherberg teamed up with Bill Gates, and various other founders and celebrities, to promote the vision of code.org, which itself has a very impressive group of people on it’s advisory board.  The need to promote coding has and continues to be needed, and with such huge names, such as the founder of MIT Media lab, on the board, Hadi, founder of code.org, is bound to gain traction fast. However, this isn’t the only thing Zuckerberg has been promoting lately.  On February 20th, 2013, science got a huge pump of cash, surpassing that which nobel laureates get, around the life sciences.  The press release read:

Art Levinson, Sergey Brin, Anne Wojcicki, Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan and Yuri Milner announced today the launch of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (“Breakthrough Prize”), recognizing excellence in research aimed at curing intractable diseases and extending human life.  The prize will be administered by the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation (“Foundation”) dedicated to advancing breakthrough research, celebrating scientists and generating excitement about the pursuit of science as a career.

Life science and tech are finally getting similar partnerships in the tech world. With the launch of ‘Breackthrough Prize’, not only is life sciences gaining funding for aspiring scientists and fund-seeking researchers, but life extension is getting a more mainstream advantage.  Five annual breakthrough prizes of 3M USD shall be given out with past recipients serving on the committee to pick future recipients.  In 2012, I attended a Humanity+ conference that hoped to discuss the ways that terminology in the life extension space could help gain better support by the masses, and with a focus on putting the money towards researchers in this space, Zuckerberg and other wealthy people in the valley are showing the world that this is a topic that needs to be discussed.  By supporting both “curing intractable diseases” and “extending human life” research areas, the project holds a strong sense of commitment not just to the first world, but the greater need for all humanity.

Will this tango of science and tech get more prevalent this year?

The current 2013 forecasts point towards more romance between science and other topics, with Obama recently supporting the Human Genome Project, and various futurists discussing the importance of coding and also understanding the future of humanity and AI, some of the topics that were once seen as crazy or only for singularity sorts, are now getting conventional support. Not only that, these two projects, show how Zuckerberg and other tech folks in the valley are partnering up to promote valuable causes more in the future.

What would this mean for the unconventional scientist?

Thus far all the laureates are at prestigious universities and institutes.  What will this be for the unconventional scientists such as citizen scientists and independent researchers? Maybe Peter Thiel is still a leader in that space.

In the weeks that follow, I will be interviewing folks working in the life extension, citizen science and the likes.  For now, I lead you with the video that will hopefully make a coder out of you if you’re not one already.  For me, I’ve been learning gradually, I hope this will just help me focus on learning to code a bit more this year!

-Naureen Nayyar, @norabean

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