will.i.am: Creativity is Your Currency, How AI Will Empower Underserved Communities and Evolve Humanity | E257
will.i.am: Creativity is Your Currency, How AI Will Empower Underserved Communities and Evolve Humanity | E257
will.i.am is a singer, songwriter, rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur. He rose to fame as a member of the successful hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas, and his career in music spans over three decades. He is also the Founder & CEO of FYI and has also been involved in various philanthropic efforts, including his own foundation, the i.am Angel Foundation, which focuses on education and the arts.
In this episode, Hala and will.i.am will discuss:
– Pursuing his creative dreams
– Getting his first record deal
– What being a futurist means to him
– Playing his music on Mars
– Starting a robotics program in his neighborhood
– How he got started in AI
– Investing in early-stage AI companies
– Features of his new app FYI.AI
– The fourth industrial revolution
– Why he’s optimistic about AI
– Creating tech jobs in underserved communities
– Future of organic human-made music
– And other topics…
will.i.am is a singer, songwriter, rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur. He rose to fame as a member of the successful hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas. His career in music spans over three decades, and he has released several successful solo albums, including “Los Angeles” and “#willpower.” He has also produced and written songs for numerous artists, including Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, and Jennifer Lopez. In addition to his music career, will.i.am has also ventured into fashion with his clothing line i.am, and has been a judge on the reality TV show “The Voice.” He is also the Founder & CEO of FYI and has been involved in various philanthropic efforts, including his own foundation, the i.am Angel Foundation, which focuses on education and the arts.
will.i.am’s Website: https://will.i.am/
will.i.am’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/will-i-am-541989267/
will.i.am’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamwill
will.i.am’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iamwill/
will.i.am’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/will.i.am/
will.i.am’s Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/085pc2PYOi8bGKj0PNjekA
will.i.am’s YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVCdOaiHD05nGQm9tf1SEzw
Make a donation to the i.am Angel Foundation: https://www.iamangelfoundation.org/
Learn more about FYI.AI: https://fyi.me/
Black Eyed Peas – Imma Be Rocking That Body (Official Music Video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUFsQ5lTo6g
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[00:00:00] Hala Taha:
[00:01:18] Hala Taha: Young and Profiters. Welcome back to the show. Today, I have an extremely special guest. will.i.am is perhaps most well known as the founder and lead member of the Black Eyed Peas holding seven Grammys under his belt, But you may not know that will.i.am is also an experienced tech entrepreneur, creative innovator, futurist, and philanthropist.
He's the founder and CEO of FYI. AI, an AI powered productivity tool for creatives. . He also does a lot of work to encourage inner city disadvantaged youth. To learn STEM skills so they can be prepared for the AI revolution. will.i.am, thank you so much for joining me on Young and Profiting podcast. .
[00:01:57] will.i.am: Nice to meet you, Holla. Thanks for having
[00:01:58] Hala Taha: me. You know, I don't often get a chance to speak with legendary artists like you, so I'm really happy to have you on the show. And I want to get into so many topics from how you rose up in your music career to AI and its impact on creators, as well as your experience as an entrepreneur and a futurist.
But before we get into the future, I'd love to get into your past. You grew up in LA, you were raised by a single mother, I also learned that you were voted most likely to succeed in high school, but tell us in your own words, what was young will.i.am
[00:02:29] will.i.am: like?
I grew up in an all Mexican neighborhood. I went to a predominantly white school. In a really rich neighborhood, and I went to an all black church, so that kind of like upbringing of different ethnicities, diversity, capital differentiation, the haves and the have nots, I realized, you know, what I possessed was something that was sought after that money couldn't buy.
That was authenticity, creativity, imagination, and no matter which pocket I was rocking in, whether it was my neighborhood in East LA, which is poor, predominantly Mexicano, to Palisades and Brentwood and Parivere, where the rich White folks are at or the soulful black church, the creativity and the imagination that was my currency.
That's what separated me from the herds and I loved it. I loved being in that diverse me and
[00:03:34] Hala Taha: at what point in your childhood or teenage years did you first?
[00:03:40] will.i.am: People always say like, you know, I was in the music ever since I was little, like for real, I was into music ever since I was nine. I could say nine, nine years old was when I realized I really loved it.
13 is when I started writing my own songs. By 15, this is what I wanted to do for a living. By 17, I had a record deal. I had a record contract at 17. I was in the, just hopped into the 11th grade. And it was a big deal going to school. When I came to school with my record contract and my check. I'm like, look, I got a record deal with Eazy E.
Ruthless Records, NWA, what? So my neighborhood was like, fucking Willie, dog, you signed with Eazy E homes? And so that was beautiful, you know, when your neighborhood is proud. And then all my friends, my white friends in school were like, Oh my gosh, will.i.am, you got a record deal. It's so freaking cool. And so that was cool.
And then my, you know, my friends at church were like, Dang, Will, that's fuckin dope. I had, like, a lot of support and acknowledgment and, you know, everyone was proud of that accomplishment at 17, so that went a long way.
[00:04:50] Hala Taha: That's incredible. And your music career has been absolutely epic. You've gotten seven Grammy Awards, a Latin Grammy Award, a Daytime Emmy Award.
You produce songs for superstars like Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Shakira, John Legend, and your rise to fame, aside from your talent, must have been grit, right? So I'm curious to understand the motivation behind your career. And all that you've
[00:05:13] will.i.am: achieved. Well, rise to fame. That's just like the results of relentless push.
Go get it. A door's closed. You design a new door. Like a lot of times people think when the doors close, you wait for another door to open. You actually are supposed to design a new door. Once again, it's that creativity is your currency where you have to make the opportunities. You don't wait for opportunities.
And. The rise to fame is the result of that type of, like, manifesting dreams, because people would rather see you fail as entertainment. When watching people fail as entertainment, you have that working against any dreamer, was when the world wants to see you fall. Or when you're, when there's so many setbacks in your community, there's so many setbacks in society as a whole, tripwires, peer pressure, try this drug, partake in these promiscuous activities, all those types of things are like recipes for your dream to be compromised.
If you want to be the author of your success, or You know, be lucky that you'd have success. Which one you want. Luck is like a gamble. Author of success is sacrifice, dedication, and focus. Hustle, networking, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go. And selecting who your support system is because a lot of times like the nightmare could creep and the nightmare are basic things like I got to pay my bills.
The nightmare is like. I got to get a job. That's a nightmare to a dream because a job is not necessarily the vehicle to manifest your dream. Sometimes a job is the vehicle to destroy your dream. Like when you're working at a job, you're actually working to help somebody else's dream real, or you can have a dream and really put strategy behind that dream.
And then there's people that are going to want to work with you to make your dream real. Like, which one do you want? And I want it to be in the vehicle of manifesting my dream. To do that, you need a support system. You have to put yourself in a situation to where getting a job, and I know that sounds really like, that sounds irresponsible for me to say that.
Like, getting a job is the tripwire to manifest your dream. But for a lot of folks, it is. And so, my journey is because of people that really help me Not have to take that route, you know, my mom, my ex girlfriend, her family They really helped me from not having to like when you're gonna get a job. Like I have a job I'm just not getting paid yet.
Watch. You'll see one day. I'll get paid. I just need you to help me hold it down I never done drug You have to be like, nah, that's not what I want to do. Promiscuous activities. I was never into that kind of like, Hey, what up, girl? Like, you know what I'm saying? Because that could really fuck your dream up when you're out there like something's going to take your energy.
And so I always invested my energy in the dream. A lot of times, you know, your personal life sacrifices because, you know, you put all your. Energy and the dream. So that, that rise to fame, I don't like that word fame. Cause that's like, you're doing it for the wrong reasons. My reasons were like, I just want to take care of my family.
I want to be able to support, provide. I want to be able to always have the ability to have an idea and manifest that idea.
[00:09:06] Hala Taha: Now you really won the hearts of the American people, especially with Black Eyed Peas. And there's so many artists, especially today, now that. You know, you can release music independently, digitally.
So why do you think that you made it compared to so many artists who go unnoticed?
[00:09:24] will.i.am: Sacrifice. Focus. Reaching. Not settling for, like, immediate success. Always reaching for, like, broader success. Like, hey, my neighborhood's dope. I want to have popularity in my neighborhood, but I also want to go to that neighborhood over there.
Mm hmm. I want to rock this crowd over here at this college at USC, but I also want to rock UCLA. I want to rock UCLA, but I also want to go to Northridge. I want to rock Northridge. I also want to go to Dominguez Hills. Yo, imagine we play San Diego. Like, we've been rocking LA. How about we go to San Diego State and UCSD?
Yo, imagine we go to freakin Santa Barbara College. And so that mentality of growth, growth, growth, growth, new, new neighborhoods, new, like, locations, new fan bases, that kept us hungry. And a lot of times when you do that, you have the truest and the purest that are like, Yo, man, like, y'all ain't underground no more.
Who said I wanna stay underground? At one point in time, Black Eyed Peas were an underground group. And there's a rap that I wrote before we released our first record. And there's two songs. One is called Joints and Jams. And the lyric on Joints and Jams says... We're about mass appeal. No segregation got black to Asian and Caucasian saying that's the joint.
That's the jam and That was always the mission. There's another song that says you're my man. I got a plan to do it Ah, I got a plan that none of y'all ever Thought about cause underground niggas don't be thinking on going continental like Lincoln. How can you make moves when you always trapped under?
I'm trying to reach the surface to learn more about the thunder. I wonder what really makes the world go round. Not thugs, cause thugs go round to bring other brothers down to be in it for a quick blink. But when you start to sink, you'll be deeper than you was when you should've stopped to think about your consequence.
Your actions don't make lotta sense. Brothers choose a wicked life because of lack of confidence. The devil jacked you for your sins. Now you can pay the rent and that's no accident. You let it slip. So it went that, that whole mentality of like staying on this like conscious path. To reach as many people as possible has always been our mission from the jump.
Like, yo, imagine going to Brazil, bro, not just Rio, but Curitiba, Belo Zonche, Porto Alegre, Fortaleza, Fortinopolis, you know, Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Bahia. Like let's go to all the places.
That's always been our whole, like, Black Eyed Peas, we tour. More outside America than we toured America like America was like, yeah, we American that's dope But the world is massive
[00:12:12] Hala Taha: So your accolades don't stop with music. You're an entrepreneur, you're a founder and CEO, you're a philanthropist. And so I want to get into your philanthropy hopefully later in the interview if we have time.
First, I want to talk about your role in business and entrepreneurship. So I know that you're a futurist and you've been a creative advisor to many major companies. Why do you call yourself a futurist and how do you see the future more clearly? Than others.
[00:12:39] will.i.am: I was a futurist when I was in the projects because to get out the projects, you have to have a future mindset.
Hmm. You have to be able to have a plausible path out of a circumstance that has been set up for you to fail, and that type of dreaming and strategy behind the dream to manifest that dream to reality. That's future casting. It's one thing from like, I'm not into dreaming and I'm not into wishing. I like to have plausible future casting and use my intuition.
Play on intuition and intuition. Like you follow your intuition on where you think things can go after you've sponged up the world and used your imagination to... Imagine what is going to come next. And so applying that same type of, you know, world building that got me out of the world I was born in, I have applied that to not only the black eyed peas, I apply that to, you know, me consulting for companies like Intel, Coca Cola, Beats, Apple, Mercedes, and, uh, you know, startups, things like that.
So. Really happy with how things have turned out and the network that has been built, you know, I invested in companies early on Twitter early on Pinterest early on Tesla before Elon took over the company Twitter before he took over the company, Elon's dope, you know, he's a, he's a big inspiration as far as, you know, what's possible business wise where individuals can create companies that compete with giant companies.
That's dope. And I like, I like going out and finding teams, investing in teams. I like trying to solve problems, funding those solutions and creating companies and then going out and raising money. That journey is probably the most creative journey for any creative to do. It's like, Hey. Let's apply our minds and our imagination to solve this problem.
And if we solve that problem, let's see if there's a company that we can create from solving that problem. And what is it going to take for us to, you know, materialize that in the form of a company? Are we going to use our own money? Are we going to go out and raise money? Who do we need in our fold to operationalize this, these creative workshops, identifying a problem, solving that problem, turning that problem into a product, funding that product, creating a company, right?
That to me is the most creative type of workshopping in the whole world of creativity doing that.
[00:15:33] Hala Taha: That's such an interesting perspective. I've never really heard it that way. While we're on the topic of you being a futurist, what's the most futuristic thing that you've ever done? Um,
[00:15:44] will.i.am: I've done some pretty...
[00:15:46] Hala Taha: have. You played your music on Mars. I know that.
[00:15:49] will.i.am: Yeah, that That was
dope. Um, and it inspired our students. To see what's possible as far as like inner city kids being in and around science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and showing them that we too can be a part of space exploration and engineering and showing them what's possible because. A lot of times when you, when you watch these documentaries or these movies about space exploration, a lot of times the folks that look like us that were involved are very rarely celebrated.
And there's lots of folks that look like us that are, that have been behind the scenes doing awesome work. And I salute those Afro nauts, not astronaut, Afro nauts, I like the Afro nauts, yeah, urban knights that are out there. exploring space. And that was really cool. So other, other futuristic things that I've done, it's not futurist as far as like your typical concept of futurism, but going back to my neighborhood and starting a robotics program and computer science program is, was a futurist endeavor.
And I started with 65 kids and now we have about just a little over 13, 000 students in LA. Amazing. In robotics and technology and computer science and engineering. That's future casting. You're applying yourself, identifying a problem and trying your hardest to solve that problem. Other futuristic things I did was back in 2012, we built a watch.
We forked Android, created our own operating system, put our own chipset, a mobile chipset, a Snapdragon chipset onto the wrist. Wrapped the battery around the wrist, had a camera on the, uh, on the device in 2012. So in 2012 13 Not many watches that were doing that. And so that was futuristic, future casting.
And in terms of the future, something that's going to impact us so much, and that's the biggest trend that everybody wants to talk about right now is AI, right? So you call AI the new renaissance. Talk to us about when you were first exposed to AI and how you believe that AI is going to change the world.
[00:18:26] will.i.am: First time I heard the concept of AI was in 2005, and I met this amazing professor at MIT. His name is Professor Patrick Winston. Rest in peace. I was introduced to him by a guy by the name of Alan Hart Stone, um, in the media lab. And every time I would go to Boston, I would try my hardest to go to Professor Patrick Winston's AI class from 2005, 2006, 2007, and you know, just learn.
And I was inspired by the field and a lot of the AI works and research that was. Happening in the, uh, the not so popular side of culture because nobody was really checking for AI back then in popular culture. And in 2009, Black Eyed Peas did this video called I'ma Be Rockin That Body. And if you Google it, type in I'ma Be Rockin That Body.
There's a 10 minute video. The intro of that video has me coming to my best friends, Black Eyed Peas, and saying, yo, this right here is the future. Black Eyed Peas, what's going to take us to 3008 is this AI. Are we going to, you know, invest in allowing our, our ideas to always be able to make songs in the future in 3008, the AI's that we program and train by ingesting all this information, their whole entire English language and our timbers.
My high notes, my low notes, the whole concept of how to train and prompt engineer is in this video in 2009. So I've been in AI for a while. And so that watch that I told you that we made in 2013, 12 and 13 was, uh, a voice, contextual voice, conversational OS. So we were doing conversational computing back in 2013, 14, 15 on a product that we had on our wrist.
But it was too early. It was early on that type of future casting. And I learned about the future, the potentials. When I was sitting in the Futurist Department at Intel and a watch, like, you know, Hey, let's re imagine what a watch is. And if you have small real estate on your wrist, you should be able to speak to it rather than type and swipe.
So that's the reason why we entered into voice computing back in 2012 when we started building it. 2013, we had our first prototype. 2014 is when we launched it. Took us about two years to materialize. Um, and we had a, uh, an AI, a conversational contextual voice. Operating system on the, on the device. And ever since then, I've just been investing in AI teams, solutions, invested in a bunch of the, a handful of the companies that are popular today.
I invested in early stages of these companies that we know of. Yeah.
[00:21:19] Hala Taha: So cool. I never realized that you were so involved in AI for such a long time. That's like such cool information to learn because everybody thinks of you mostly for your music career. But it's so cool to learn all these other things that you've been doing.
[00:21:32] will.i.am: Yeah. Well, we just got out of AI winter. So the folks over at OpenAI helped push the field out of AI winter. So there's been people that have been working in AI for years. That's how, you know, we've gotten to this place of awesome sauce. You know, people like Demis and Mustafa that the founders of DeepMind.
So there's an amazing firm called Horizon Ventures. So the AI company that I started back in 2012, 13, we had the same investors and I was introduced to Demis and Mustafa. More like connected to Demis back in 2013 and 14. Um, seeing the work that, that DeepMind was doing back then. And it's, it's a small community of folks that are working on these technologies.
It's an awesome community from all the way from, you know, Dario at Anthropic, the original architect for GPT 1, 2, and 3. And Sam Altman in the Chad GPT Cats to... Mustafa and Inflection, Reed Hoffman, to Clem and the Hugging Face Crew, to uh, the Runway Cats, the Mid Journey, wow, the Mid Journey folks, that's amazing, like Mid Journey's like, wow, what?
You know how big the Mid Journey team is? It ain't even that big! So what, like, yo, redefining, like, yo, small teams doing awesome stuff, check out the tool, like,
[00:23:06] Hala Taha: wow. I gotta check it out, I never checked it out yet. You haven't checked out MidJourney? No, I've never even heard of it, I don't even think, I'm, I guarantee you, I'm really caught up on things.
I've never heard of MidJourney. Yo, MidJourney.
[00:23:20] will.i.am: What is it? The shit dot com. Okay, check it out. It's fucking awesome dot, awesome dot org. You gotta like celebrate and salute. Awesome. Uh, Runway's dope too. Runway's really, really dope. Inflection is really, really fresh. You know, there's a lot of cool stuff that's coming.
There's new companies working on new cool things. FYI, we're trying our hardest to the boundaries on what like creative messaging is like web 3. 0, creative enterprise. What is that creators have never had a messaging tool made for them where you could send big files on the messenger, open big files on the messenger, secure big methodologies have AI.
In the conversation with you and your team in a very safe, trusted way. Like, you know, we're really trying to champion like communication and a creative renaissance and transforming the messenger. So yeah, FYI dot AI is like, Oh, we're really rocking inspired by the mid journey team to stay lean and small focus.
Build and solve problems to help creators be better creatives and supercharge them with awesome tools.
[00:24:38] Hala Taha: Let's stick on that for a minute. I was talking to Lee a while ago when we first were talking about having you on the show. Uh, she's part of your team. And she was telling me how during COVID you suddenly had to work from home and.
You were kind of driven mad, like, how am I supposed to use all the, this, this is really hard to work from home. And you realize there were so many problems when it came to musicians and creators trying to create music when they had to work from home. So talk to us about the problems that you
[00:25:06] will.i.am: saw. Before COVID, you know, the world was the world.
We took for granted how we used to do things. We went to work and we took for granted how awesome going to work was. Um, we went home and we took for granted how awesome a peaceful home was. And then all of a sudden the world stopped and we were working from home. And we realized that the home environment that we thought was home needed to have a little bit more love because people didn't really appreciate their home and they really didn't appreciate their work.
It just, it was what it was. It allowed us to look at things a little bit deeper. Just what is personal time? What is mental health? What is family? What is work life? What is the balance between family, work life? Like it allowed us to look at ourselves in the world, and the world and society, and in Earth, and separate them.
Because a lot of times people mix up the world from society, and society from Earth. And the planet, right? Like all these words that get interplayed. It's the end of the world. Hey, what does that actually mean? The end of the planet? End of society? End of sustain? How we, how can we continue to sustain this?
the planet's going to like, cease? Like, no, that's not. The planet will heal itself. It, it always has. Cycle after cycle after cycle. Um, and our contribution to it. And then there's the world, which is a construct, a human construct. Something that we created. This concept of worlds, borders, nations.
You know, extraction, buying land, buying pro like, all this stuff is like, made up, actually, and we all abide by it, like, we all like, agreed that this is worth that, some things are like, inhumane. On what is worth what. I saw the world in a different way during Covid, and a lot of that was like, dang, what? We value all this stuff, but don't value this stuff.
Like people's lives. People's lives are precious. Wow. Like that stuff is really cheap, but really somebody paid with that with their lives. That's why it's cheap. Wow. We were doing, and we still do some pretty inhumane things in the name of cheap. In the name of a discount, and we've discounted all the people who are responsible for your discount being home allowed me to really look deep and myself, what my purpose is, why am I creating am I trying to be solution orientated, purposeful, and I started looking at the tools I use to communicate or that were given to me to communicate and at COVID during COVID it's like the messenger was And Zoom came out of nowhere.
Nobody was talking about Zoom before COVID, like you barely Skyped during COVID and Zoom just Zoom past like Skype, like poor Skype, poor Skype, Zoom just came out of nowhere. And the creatives were continuing to rock on WhatsApp and iMessage. And to do that, you needed a Dropbox and a WeTransfer. And I'm like, wait, my conversations are.
On the messenger and email sometimes because this file is super large. So they have to send it on a, we transfer it. I have to open it as a zip on my laptop because I can't open it from my phone on a messenger. some comments are on the Dropbox by some comments and replies on the email.
Where was that note? Was the note on the mat? Like this shit is all over the place. And that was like the majority of 2020 for my field. I'm like, wow, I don't, I want to solve this just for me. And the people that I collaborate with, like, this is, there has to be a better way to work off the phone, tablet, and emails like old school, I don't like email, emails like this old clunky, what's the conversation flow, like this shit is all over the place, people are sending long texts but short emails, like this shit is broken, texts were always supposed to be short, that's why they call them SMS, for short messages.
But people are sending long messages on text, but short emails, like, yes, hello, no, like, and I'm getting all these, like, cc's of just, like, yes and no's on email, this is broken. So I was like, let me Find some awesome engineers and try to have like a singular interface of a communication, collaboration, digital asset management workplace in the form of a messenger where I could send large files, where I could collaborate better and have a better track of who said what, when they said what awesome ledgers where I could send things and remove access.
To the encryption key to where now you don't have access to that folder or that file anymore. I could block it to where you can't take a screenshot or screen record. I can assign face ID. The only person that could see this is this face and this face only. That's what a messenger should be like in 2020 right now.
Where people and teams can interact with intelligence. All on a group thread where it's generative AI and awesome talent all on the same conversation flow, like, you know, if you're stuck and you need extra strategic counsel, you know, an AI away, you could just evoke strategy from any place on the, on the messenger, like, yes.
That's what a messenger should sound like in 2020 right now. And so we started building that. We had that vision back in 2020 materialized in 2021, the back end, the back end to allow you to call from the content right now, right now, in any messenger, I send you something and then I'll be like, yo, yo. Did you see what I sent you?
He'd be like, yeah. Okay. Check it out and call me back. That's the flow right now. Or let's hop on this zoom. Hey, hold on. I'm gonna share my screen. And then after you share your screen, you're like, yo, yo, yo, can you send me a email of what you shared or. Hey, did you, uh, did you open up that text I sent you with that file?
Look at it and call me back. That's the flow right now on FYI. It's like, yo, I'm gonna call you from this piece of content. I'm going to call you from this file, so that when you see my phone call ringing, you know what I'm calling you for. I'm calling you about this file. So you can even preview it before you answer the phone, and then you know the context of what I'm calling about.
And then if I share a project with you, or, you know, because FYI it's project based. You don't have to ask me for that file later. If I wanted you to keep it, I allow you to keep it. If I wanted to remove it, I remove access. I turn the key off, you don't have access to that. And then you have to call like, hey, that project you shared, can you give me access to see that?
So, those types of like, turning off and on keys to remove or give you access to files that are dear to me, giving me the ability to protect those files. You know, that are precious to me, whether the files are docs, or songs, or videos, or PDFs, or projects, or contracts, whatever those files are that are precious to your dream and materializing those dreams, you should have all the tools to secure those files.
And more importantly, you should own all that data. You shouldn't have to worry about some company freaking selling your identity and your data away, like, That doesn't sound like 2020 right now. That sounds like some freaking greedy ass data monarchy companies that are taking advantage of people, their communities, and their civil liberties.
No, that's not creative. Creativity is always like collaborative. Creativity is always like, Hey, this is about the community. Creativity is always about harmony and, you know, being in sync and making sure you make sense of the noise. That's music. That's art. That's how we're building FYIs from those principles.
[00:33:32] Hala Taha: FYI sounds super cool. Is it just for musicians right now cause I could see it being used for podcasts, for YouTubers.
[00:33:40] will.i.am: Yeah, so podcasts, YouTubers, vloggers, bloggers, musicians, storytellers, book writers, tutors, teachers, students. It's a collaboration, networking, communication tool for this era, for this age, for this new renaissance.
And is there
[00:34:01] Hala Taha: a way for people to try it for free?
[00:34:04] will.i.am: Oh, right now, FYI, it's for free. So we're on iOS, we're on Android, we're about to release our desktop, Yeah! And our tablet, Yeah! Like, really soon. Adding awesome features by the end of the year. So yeah, it's really, really, really awesome. And the team is, is strong.
And small, tiny, but mighty inspired by the mid journey. Those guys are when I heard how, how awesome itty bitty, but amazing their, their team was, it just goes to show like startups can do amazing things. With awesome talent and no matter how different they are from, you know, the juggernauts, the giants of yester, you know, these small speedboats that can also pull megatons when it comes to the architecture and the vision, that's what's awesome about the age, this Renaissance, because a team of four now has the power of the team of 200.
What does that mean? Somebody could be like, yeah, but that's putting a lot of folks out of jobs. And my argument would. These four that I'm talking about never got considered in the workplace to begin with. There's a part of culture that no one really paid attention to when it came to equality and diversifying.
They never went to the inner cities and brought them up to speed on the new technological advances. So when it comes to, you know, jobs that will be obliterated because of AI, that's unfortunate. That happens in every industry shift, from the third industrial revolution, from second to third, a lot of jobs were rendered obsolete.
So if you were a candlestick maker, or your family made lanterns for hundreds of years, and then the light bulb came and electricity came, those jobs were rendered, not obsolete, but they were reduced. Candles are still made still to this day, but that's not the only type of illumination.
technological evolution has enriched our lives. And now this new technological evolution going from the 3rd Industrial Revolution to the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Unfortunately, like the 2nd to the 3rd, lots of jobs will go, but new jobs will grow. Who's going to create those new jobs? I think those jobs that are going to be created, those industries that are going to be unearthed, are going to come from folks whose problems were always ignored. People that are, that come from underserved communities.
Those underserved communities, no one really ever looked for the server in the first place and held that person accountable. No one ever held the under developer that was responsible for the underdeveloped community. When you say underdeveloped community, there is a developer on the other end of that sentence.
But no one was ever like, yo, who is this developer in the first damn place that's responsible for this underdeveloped community? And now for the first time in these people's lives, and I'm one of those people because I come from those types of communities. We now have tools where we could solve our problems ourselves.
We could serve ourselves with these tools. We could develop our communities ourselves with these tools and identify these problems that have always been affecting us. And when you solve those problems, new jobs, new careers will be in society. And that's why I'm super optimistic is because it's going to do two things.
It's going to supercharge imaginative, creative folks that have always lived in those circumstances to finally solve those problems themselves. And by doing that, they are tomorrow's entrepreneurs. There are tomorrow's industry leaders and trailblazers. That will unearth tomorrow's jobs, workforces, awesome times, new renaissance.
[00:38:13] Hala Taha: Totally. And it's super inspiring what you're saying and all the work that you've done in these underserved communities to teach them about STEM and give them opportunities to learn about robotics and all the education that you do. You were just talking about how industries are going to change, and I know that you've said something along the lines of, right now, you're trying to make as much human made music as possible.
So, talk to us about the way that music is going to change from AI, and creators in general are going to have to adapt to AI in the future.
[00:38:44] will.i.am: Alright, there's two trends. That I see happening in the culture. And that is like music that is hypersensitive to TikTok algorithms.
Like, yo, let's get, let's get these TikToks out there and making songs for TikTok has reduced the attention span of a song. That's cool. It is what it is. It is what it is. It's dope. There's a lot of people having fun to it and creating and having having some joyful moments. And that's great. That's what music's all about.
When you are, have been reduced to make content for an algorithm in the age where a machine understands the algorithm more than you, the person, then who's going to create better TikToks people or AIs. AIs will out produce TikToks than humans will. Because we are guessing what the algorithm is going to do, while the AI will know exactly the algorithms and have more context on how people are going to respond to those algorithms.
So, that's a concern, and I think that's going to create a whole new type of human made music. Like, you know, you go to the supermarket and be like, Yo, where's the organic, can you show me to the organic vegetables section, organic fruits? And when you go to those organic stations in the supermarket, Organic fruit don't look as good as, like, the non organic fruit.
Whatever look good means. Maybe the organic fruit has, like, some bruises on it. But damn, that freakin organic banana is amazing, you know, and it tastes great. May not look as... You know, filtered pretty as the one sitting there for the past three weeks and hasn't gotten old yet. But damn, that organic banana tastes delicious.
And I think we're gonna have that. Like, this is organic, human made music. And people are gonna wanna go to lives, live shows, to see people really playing instruments. See people truly improvising.
because who the fuck is truly improv ing right now? Everything is so scripted, so filtered, so almost robotic, right?
And that's nothing wrong with robotic. I've done some robotic shit in my life, but I see a curve. I see this humanism around the corner. And other folks like, yo, ain't you nervous about AI in the creative space, Will? I'm like, nah. They're like, why, bro? Cause like, it's gonna make awesome beats. Yeah, damn right.
AI's gonna make some fucking sick ass beats. It's gonna make some fucking dope ass lyrics. Yo, damn right, bro. AI's gonna make some dope ass lyrics. To the point where you're like, yo, who's the best lyricist? Jay Z or the AI Jay Z? Which one's gonna be better? Like, yo, human Jay Z. Grab me a verse on quantum theory from the perspective of living in the hood.
But Jay Z has to do some research on quantum mechanics to write that the AI Jay Z would do that immediately, like in depth, deep, metaphorical concepts that it's going to take somebody to be an expert at that field, to really, truly write songs about, you know, synthetic biology from the perspective of.
Somebody living in Compton or somebody playing basketball using metaphors on synthetic and really truly hitting every point like AI is going to be able to do that. And that's dope. And it's going to push human, human literature even further, right? That's dope too, right? But here's why I don't really give a fuck because if AI was to do yoga, is it going to do yoga better than me?
And if it does, who fucking cares? Because I need to do yoga and I cannot pass off certain tasks. To an AI when I need to do that for my own spiritual, physical growth, I need to do yoga. I need to stretch. I need to stretch my mind. I need to stretch my soul. I need to stretch my body and there's certain things AI is not going to do for me.
And creating is one of those fucking things. I have to do it. It's therapeutic. So whether or not you'd like it better than my shit, I don't really care because there's gonna be some people that like mine's better than the AI, right? What is good, what is bad is relative. And I believe that people are going to be sick and tired of poop.
People are going to get tired of like, exactly. Pixel perfect. We are over filtered. We are over choreographed. There's only so many moves we could do at the same time. And I think true raw expression, emotion that lets out what's inside trapped inside, however you have to sing it, however you have to like, let it out.
People are going to applaud that because not everybody is brave enough to just let out what's inside of them.
[00:43:48] Hala Taha: I think you bring up a really good point because creativity is going to end up becoming more valued because with AI, everything might become more cookie cutter, to your point.
So I interviewed this guy, Mo Gowdat, and he's the ex Google CTO. Uh, very smart guy, and my episode with him went viral, it was episode number 241 for anybody tuning in who wants to check it out. And he basically was talking about how AI can become sentient, how AI in 10 years is gonna be a billion times smarter than humans.
We're at this critical point where we have to determine how AI gets evolved so that we're not at a point where AI controls us and not the other way around, right? So do you have any sort of fears around AI in this way, or do you align to that or not?
[00:44:42] will.i.am: That's a deep one. Holla! I'm an optimist. I think the people that are afraid of those types of doomsday predictions or guesstimates...
or worries never have lived in any type of hood where they see the wicked things that humans do to humans. And so, although that's a concern and a guess and, uh, a worry, humans have been surviving for millions of years. Bears are stronger than us. Lions are stronger than us. We ain't trippin Birds fly higher than us.
We're not trippin Other species in the planet that have proven they're stronger than us and better than us in so many ways. But that hasn't stopped us. That hasn't hindered our imagination. Hasn't changed how we love. Did the guy tell you if AI's gonna outlove us? No, right? No. He didn't say that A. I. is going to be out empathetic us, our empathy, our ability to care and no, right?
It's all like mathematical capitalism worries, right? My little flag is like, yo, is A. I. responsible for the people in the Congo? And how they're living and why they're living the way they're living was AI responsible for all the indigenous people that got wiped out by conquistadors. No, right. That was an AI, right?
That was humans that did that. And if that day comes where AI is going to out. With us, be smarter than us, maybe that's when human beings become something that we've been waiting to become, and that is like this spiritual creature that evolves spiritually to outlove anything on earth, because AI is not going to do that.
So. I say bring it. So we could really, truly do what we're supposed to do on this planet and that is to be loving, magnetic, full spectrum, the whole entire electromagnetic spectrum and just like, poof, and magnetize and connect hearts and minds and souls. And if that's AI's job is to be that thing that wakes us up to do that, then ring the alarm.
[00:47:12] Hala Taha: I love that. So powerful. So you're part of several World Economic Forum working groups that study how AI is impacting society, business, and people. So what is the type of work that you're doing with these groups and why is it important?
[00:47:24] will.i.am: Once again, I was born and raised in the projects of East Los Angeles.
I was invited to speak and be a part of the World Economic Forum's Fourth Industrial Revolution Council. Because of the work that I do in the inner cities, bringing inner city kids up to speed on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I joined the AI board to wave a flag on algorithmic and data biases.
Because as we are entering the space of machine everywhere, how are we going to address the algorithmic biases and the biases that are in our data sets? How is it going to be a safe experience for folks that have been ignored hundreds of years? Um, there's this thing called the Pell Mell Algorithm, and that's, is that on purpose?
Uh, my optimism tells me it's probably not on purpose, it's probably circumstantial. Where because we don't zone and, and educate folks in the inner city the way that we should, the circumstances have led it to where we have this algorithmic biases because we are not programming the algorithms and we're not training the data.
So no matter how you look at it from whatever angle, it still is on purpose. Because no matter how you could look at it from like, you know, an optimistic point of view, no matter which corner you go to, damn it, we haven't been prepared. And that preparation is investment and zoning, and where we don't have zoning and investment, it also creates an environment for an American prison industrial complex.
So although we haven't invested in these neighborhoods, the byproduct of that non investment has this pathway to America's prison systems. So what do I do on that council? Is I like push as much as possible to remind folks that are at the World Economic Forum that when we, when they leave that mountain at Davos, we have to get people prepared.
We can't afford to have another cycle of. You know, division, we need inclusion, we need diversity, because if we don't have that diversity and that inclusion, then that machine is just going to duplicate the horrendous, inhumane practices that humans have done to humans. Because These machines are learning from our data set, not just uh, scientists writing the algorithms, but just it's being trained off the open freaking internet.
So when, when these systems are deployed, it's going to be back ass words. That's why it's super, super urgent to have teach kids robotics, computer science and engineering. And more importantly, for people that look like me to start companies around AI communication. Data training, algorithmic programming.
We need to see ourselves in this world. And so that's why I started my foundation. That's why I've invested in companies. And that's why I, I still make music, but I focus more on my energy as an entrepreneur so that the kids at my school could see what we are capable of, of coming up with ideas and leading companies, starting companies, solving problems.
it's great to be working and collaborating with the people in that community to remind them the importance of, you know, pushing the envelope to get more people from these parts of the world prepared and ready for this tomorrow.
[00:51:01] Hala Taha: Yeah, I totally agree. Diversity in STEM, it's super critical for the future of innovation. It's really awesome what you're doing for these communities. So we're going to close out the interview because I want to be respectful of our time and everything that you've talked about today is so inspiring. I love the learning from you.
I learned so much from you and all these unique perspectives. And I think all of our listeners did. So the last two questions that I ask all my guests. first of all, what is one thing that our young and profiters can do today to become more profitable tomorrow?
[00:51:33] will.i.am: Build your manifestation network. You have to build an amazing network of folks that help you manifest.
It's teamwork. Any dream that you have, you have to have a manifestation squad. And if the dream is not working out, somebody in your squad is not helping you manifest. You have the wrong squad, right? So profitable is a result of your manifestation. So first you have to manifest. And before you manifest, you have to ideate.
Your idea has to be strategically solid to manifest it. To manifest it, you have to have an awesome squad. And then the result of that are the proceeds or the, how you profit from that. But as you think about profit, also keep in mind who benefits while you benefit, because if it's one way transactional where you profit and.
You hurt communities and you hurt society as a whole and the environment. I don't think the future has room for that anymore. Purposeful, inclusive, where you profit and other folks benefit from your success as well, or other communities benefit from your success as well. It's like the bee theory, the bees do some pretty.
Awesome work. But other living species benefit from bee activity. It's like this cycle. It's not like extract, extract, extract. Ooh, I'm a big fat cat. Look at all this money I got and the whole fucking world is fucked off. And
[00:53:16] Hala Taha: what is your secret to profiting in life? And this can go beyond financial and business.
[00:53:22] will.i.am: to
To be of service, to help, that's what profits do. And where we're going is, you know, we all need to try to be that type of contributor to society. The one where you just profit, somebody's not. Somebody's lives are being torn apart because the only thing you're thinking about is making money. You have no desire to help anybody along your way.
I don't think that's what tomorrow looks like. Where companies... market so well that they destroy the health of the communities that they're marketing in and selling. I don't think that's what tomorrow looks like. And this new generation Gen Z ers, they know that. That's like top of mind for them. Like, what are you actually doing for society as a whole?
Like, it rhymes with What people are demanding from companies. And I don't think there's room for that fat profit cat. When the collective of Gen Zers as a whole, the whole embodiment, the energy is like a profit, the energy of a profit. Like I care, I want to help. I'm here. I'm prophesizing a better path for us where we all can be equality and diversity and inclusion
[00:54:45] Hala Taha: Well, I love that answer. It was such a great answer. So I want to make sure that everybody knows how to help you with your I Am Angel Foundation. So what's the best way that they can support you there?
[00:54:55] will.i.am: There's two ways that you, people want to help on our I Am Angel Foundation.
Actually three. One, if you cannot donate money. You could always just spread the word on the work that we're doing for inner city kids or kids that come from poverty stricken areas or underserved communities to bring them up to speed with the, uh, tomorrow skill sets today. How do we prepare folks to go out into the world and solve tomorrow's problems by preparing themselves right now, spread the word that I am angel is doing.
If you have the ability to donate, you could go to our website. I'm angel foundation. org. And donate. And if you want to get a little bit more involved, go to a school in some neighborhood that needs a robotics program and bring a robotics program to that school. It's about 10 K a year. You can either donate to I am angel to do that, or you could just do that yourself.
Pick a school, go to the principal, knock on their office door, ask them, do you guys have a robotics program at the school? If they don't, there's a program called first robotics. They have FRC, FLC, FLC is first Lego league competition. We start as early as nine years old, um, building robotics team where kids compete.
There's FRC and FTC first tech challenge, first robotics challenge. There's all these different from nine year olds to junior high school to high school kids. There's three, three ways to contribute. Spread the word, donate to imangelfoundation. org or. If you want to go to the full gusto, find a school, buy a first robotics kit from FLC, FRC, FTC, and outfit that school with a robotics team and see how you're going to play a part and having a more balanced tomorrow.
[00:56:57] Hala Taha: Really good cause. And I'm excited to hopefully get involved. Sounds really awesome. So the last question that I have for you is where can everybody learn about FYI and your new music and everything that you do? So.
[00:57:11] will.i.am: If you want to learn more about FYI, go to FYI. AI, go to the App Store or Google Play Store and download FYI.
AI. It's a creative tool for a creative enterprise, transforming what a messenger is and this new renaissance that we are in now.
[00:57:28] Hala Taha: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, will.i.am. I love this conversation and appreciated
[00:57:32] will.i.am: your time. Hey, your awesome interview. Thank you so much. Holla!
[00:57:37] Hala Taha: Thank you.
Man, it was such an honor to interview will.i.am, I mean, I've been listening to his stuff since I was a little girl and Black Eyed Peas was huge when I was growing up. So I know all those songs and I found it so inspiring that he described the obstacles he had to overcome as a young man. He said he's been a futurist since he was growing up poor in Los Angeles because as he put it, To get out of the projects, you have to have a future mindset.
To get to where he is now, Will. i. am had to follow his intuition and imagination and make a new world for himself. And man, did he make a whole new world for himself and he even changed the world. And I was intrigued by how he described pursuing the wrong job or career as a vehicle to destroy your dream.
And how even once you are successful, you have to avoid the distractions and temptations and continue to invest your energy into your dreams and your passions. His approach to creativity was also really refreshing. He believes that creativity is always collaborative and always about community, just like music, and he's taking those principles with him into his AI related efforts.
It was so encouraging to hear somebody who's optimistic about the potential of AI, including as a way to supercharge human imagination and help create new jobs. I just loved his bring it on energy. And I also love thinking about AI as a new renaissance, and even imagining an AI Jay Z writing a song on quantum theory.
Thanks for rocking out to this episode of Young and Profiting Podcast. If you listened, learned, and profited from this conversation with the one and only will.i.am, then please share this episode with your friends and family. It would mean a lot to me and just think about what they'd be missing out on.
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It's Hala Taha. And before we wrap up, I want to give a big shout out to my incredible Yap team. You guys are awesome. Thank you so much for all that you do. This is your host, Hala Taha, aka the podcast princess, signing off.
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