will.i.am Talks Future of AI at Cannes

will.i.am Talks Future of AI at Cannes

Music icon will.i.am is excited about the potential of generative AI to invent the industries of tomorrow.

His FYI (Focus Your Ideas) app has forged a new partnership with IBM Consulting to integrate watsonx to the app. “When generative AI came in, it was like everything came together,” said will.i.am at Brand Innovators Beach during the Cannes Creativity Festival. “Because now you have this collaborative tool from creators for creators that behaves like them, thinks like them, you can have a process, you can do all these things, incredibly efficiently.” 

will.i.am founded FYI in 2021 when he realized that the creative community was working across five to six different tools just to get work done: WhatsApp, Dropbox, WeTransfer, Zoom, email and even generative AI. “It’s all over the place,” he said. “Why can’t the whole entire conversation flow happen in one place?” Running on IBM Cloud, the app is designed to give creators the tools to collaborate with others, including exchanging high resolution files, in one place. 

The app gives each member encryption keys “because NFTs and finance should not be the only thing that issues encryption keys,” said will.iam. “Your digital assets and your data are just as important as the NFT in cryptocurrency. Your data is yours. Your audience is yours. Centralize and organize and strategize with AI on FYI.”

will.i.am is excited about how AI can help transform the creation process and help develop new industries. His concern is that creators should have control of their own data. Comparing the development of AI to the history of video games, he said we have moved past Pac Man and right now we are all experiencing some version of Super Mario Brothers. 

“It hasn’t gotten to Halo and Call of Duty,” he said. “The moment that this stuff gets to Halo or Call of Duty and we don’t own our essence and likeness. That’s why we should be afraid. We shouldn’t be afraid of the technology, we should be afraid of the business practices and the greed that people are going to have behind the author of technology.” 

Comparing AI to the early days of recorded music when some musicians didn’t even know what a microphone or tape recorder was and got bad record deals, if any at all, he cautioned history repeating itself. “Usually the first people that got recorded got screwed. There were no structures in place to protect creators,” he said, insisting that the creators of tomorrow should own their likeness and data rights.

“That encryption key to FYI is super important, he said. “We start by giving every single person a key to the data and starting to protect people’s likeness. In essence, we will get there. But it’s an important step on the principles that you stand for in this day and age of AI, communication, collaboration, information, inspiration, the whole goddamn caboodle. You’ve got to protect people’s likeness and empower them with their own data. Because my identity is truly my ‘idataity.’ I am like data.”

will.i.am predicts that tomorrow’s artists and creatives are going to look more like Pharrell Williams and Rihanna, artists who rather than serving as brand ambassadors like may have in the past, now own multi-pronged businesses. “There are going to be more artists that build industries and solve problems with this tool,” he concluded. “Tomorrow’s industries are going to come from hyper creatives. As AI is going to obliterate industries, the hyper creative is going to unearth new types of industries by solving tomorrow’s problems.”