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.”