‘Scientific education rescued me from the ghetto,’ American rap star Will.i.am explains how he moved into tech

American rapper Will.i.am is encouraging children away from dreams of becoming a pop star (File Photo/AFP)
Updated 15 February 2018
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‘Scientific education rescued me from the ghetto,’ American rap star Will.i.am explains how he moved into tech

DUBAI: American rap music met UAE technology ambitions at the World Government Summit in Dubai when musician and entrepreneur Will.i.am talked of the need to “teach, inspire and mentor” young people to be ready for life in the digital age.

The singer, who is also founder and chief executive of Hollywood tech company i.am+, told a mainly youthful audience at the summit that education in the sciences had inspired him to get out of the ghetto where he was born in Los Angeles, California. His musical and business success enabled him to move his entire family and many friends away from their deprived origins.

“It cost a lot of money, but governments have more money, so they can do a lot more,” he said.

He said a scientific education was the key to self-improvement. “We cannot all be basketball players because there are lots of basketball players out there. But there is a shortage of engineers,” he said.

The 42-year-old star, who also financially backed the successful headphone business Beats, said that these days his “instrument is my computer. I’ve moved from rhythm to algorithm.”

He was in conversation with Omar Bin Sultan Al-Olama, UAE minister of artificial intelligence, who asked him what he had learned from the summit about access to technology and development, the theme of their session.

“We are at an intersection. We’ve never been here before. We mastered trains and planes and bikes. Now there are things out there that are stronger than us. But we’ve tamed lions and tigers in the past, so we can tame artificial intelligence,” he replied.

He added that the priority had to be augmented intelligence, not artificial intelligence. “Our smartphones are being used for dumbness and your date is not your own. Take control of your data. At this summit I did not see corporations, I saw people.”


Japan to trial ‘world’s first urine test’ to spot cancer

Updated 17 April 2018
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Japan to trial ‘world’s first urine test’ to spot cancer

  • Previous research has shown a new blood test has potential to detect eight different kinds of tumors before they spread
  • The research starts in April and will run until September

TOKYO: A Japanese firm is poised to carry out what it hailed as the world’s first experiment to test for cancer using urine samples, which would greatly facilitate screening for the deadly disease.
Engineering and IT conglomerate Hitachi developed the basic technology to detect breast or colon cancer from urine samples two years ago.
It will now begin testing the method using some 250 urine samples, to see if samples at room temperature are suitable for analysis, Hitachi spokesman Chiharu Odaira told AFP.
“If this method is put to practical use, it will be a lot easier for people to get a cancer test, as there will be no need to go to a medical organization for a blood test,” he said.
It is also intended to be used to detect paediatric cancers.
“That will be especially beneficial in testing for small children” who are often afraid of needles, added Odaira.
Research published earlier this year demonstrated that a new blood test has shown promise toward detecting eight different kinds of tumors before they spread elsewhere in the body.
Usual diagnostic methods for breast cancer consist of a mammogram followed by a biopsy if a risk is detected.
For colon cancer, screening is generally conducted via a stool test and a colonoscopy for patients at high risk.
The Hitachi technology centers around detecting waste materials inside urine samples that act as a “biomarker” — a naturally occurring substance by which a particular disease can be identified, the company said in a statement.
The procedure aims to improve the early detection of cancer, saving lives and reducing the medical and social cost to the country, Odaira explained.
The experiment will start this month until through September in cooperation with Nagoya University in central Japan.
“We aim to put the technology in use in the 2020s, although this depends on various things such as getting approval from the authorities,” Odaira said.