Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am speaks at tech conference in Saudi capital Riyadh

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Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am spoke to a packed audience at the first day of the LEAP technology conference in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh.

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The pop star and technology entrepreneur discussed his new productivity tool FYI, which allows users to build and manage creative projects.

“Here we are in a brand-new realm that is about to kick off, and it is exciting,” he said during the panel titled Magnifying Creative Minds With AI.

“This is the age of the idea person because now you can materialize an idea instantly.”

Will.i.am is one of more than 700 speakers at LEAP 2023, which includes billionaire entrepreneurs, business magnates, and sporting heroes such as footballer Charles Puyol.

The rapper found fame with Black Eyed Peas before turning his hand to the technology industry, becoming a founding equity stakeholder in Beats Electronics, which was purchased by Apple in 2014 for $3 billion.

Speaking about his new enterprise, FYI, Will.i.am said: “It will really shape culture and show folks how AI can transform the work and creativity of individuals, small teams, and big teams.”

“It’s filling a gap; it’s a Web 3.0 messenger with generative AI in the loop to help you and your team to strategize, organize, plan, and stay on top of the things you are passionate about. Focus your ideas with AI.”

Earlier in the afternoon, Borje Ekholm, CEO of Ericsson, discussed the importance of 5G technology, digital infrastructure, and the development of technology in Saudi Arabia.

“A prerequisite of digitalization is a digital infrastructure – a country without roads is terribly unlikely to have an automotive industry,” said Ekholm. “Roads you can see, whereas digital highways you cannot. As a person, you cannot see when it is congested in the digital world. When your phone doesn’t connect, it’s typically congestion.”

“The Kingdom has recognized that digital transformation is going to be important for the country, but more than just saying that, it has taken action to establish a digital infrastructure. It was interesting to see female participation in the tech sector is actually higher here than in Silicon Valley or in Europe, so that brings new talent into the market. The Kingdom is not only talking the talk, it’s walking the walk.”

More than 100,000 tech innovators and disruptors are at LEAP23 to help fast-track Saudi’s economic and societal transformation.

The event was organized by the Ministry of Communications, and Information Technology (MCIT) in conjunction with Tahaluf – a strategic joint venture co-owned by Informa PLC and SAFCSP.

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