You can’t spell will.i.am without AI

You can’t spell will.i.am without AI

When legendary performer will.i.am attended the World Economic Forum in Davos last week it wasn’t to entertain anyone. He and his company, i.am.plus, are focused on two things: AI, and the future.

In case you missed it, will.i.am is a dedicated technologist. And as my colleague Matt Hughes pointed out last year, we’re not even joking a little bit.

He’s quickly becoming one of the biggest names in AI. Again, not kidding. And it’s not for nothing either. He seems to know what he’s talking about, his intentions seem good, and his products work. He’s like Elon Musk, but only one of them has seven Grammys.

Granted will.i.am isn’t putting rockets in space, but there’s something to be said for his attitude on education. In a Fox Business interview he said:

If I’m going to inner cities and telling kids they should apply themselves down the path of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and then I go off and, you know, go on stage, they’re going to look at me sideways… “I wanna do music like you.” No, you wanna do tech like me. This the way, not out of the ghetto, but to change the ghetto forever.

Later in the interview he says AI is “the next big frontier,” going on to compare its impact on the world to that of the lightbulb. He’s not alone in his belief either, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai recently compared AI to fire and electricity. For his part, will.i.am. believes AI will create jobs and change the world for the better, he’s definitely an optimist. He continues:

Right now your iPhone is an internet phone and there’s a bunch of internet devices. AI devices are right around the corner. We’re about to deploy ours shortly, this year. I’m real excited for our launch.

His company has 300 employees across six locations around the world, and its biggest product is a voice assistant for enterprise called Omega.

Whether you believe it or not doesn’t matter. The musical superstar cum technology mogul is walking his talk, creating jobs, and trying to make the world a better place.

And he’s years ahead of the compeitition, just like he was when the entire world was singing “I Gotta Feeling.” When asked whether, as far as technology is concerned, 2018 will be the year of France, the US, Europe or Asia, he responded:

My eye’s on 2030. Because that’s when my kids will be old enough to create jobs. The ones that I’m focused on right now, 9 year olds, so 2030. My eyes are looking further. I’m committed further.

Whose your AI Mount Rushmore? We’ll start: Andrew Ng, Ray Kurzweil, Yann LeCun, and will.i.am.

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