IBC Report: Will.i.am Looks for Creativity Enhanced by Technology

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Technology has been shown to inspire creativity but can creativity inspire technology? The people at Intel certainly think so, having hired musician and media personality Will.i.am to help them devise and promote products. On Intel's ticket at IBC the 37-year old gave his idiosyncratic take on the subject.

His advice to broadcasters, for example: "Technology now makes an instant connection for people to watch what they want anywhere and appointment to view is over. What I would do if I were a broadcaster is surround myself with brilliant software coders and platform builders to create change. Imagine if ABC had created YouTube or Kodak had bought Instagram? They didn't -- but they could have. The problem in big organisations is that the CFO blocks innovation because they want to see monetization. That's why start-ups like Google or Twitter can impact change by creating tools that become adopted only by thinking about monetization later."

He even revealed an idea for a new TV format to encourage the next generation of inventors, possibly with Intel as the sponsor: "Why is there not a TV show which discovers and showcases the next software genius or creative computing talent?" he asked. "TV content is too narrow. I can't remember the new songs that winners of 'The Voice' or 'The X Factor' put out there. There are millions of people with ideas in technology and creativity who we should be helping."

When asked for his views on hackers, Will.i.am admitted that his own songs had been hacked and leaked but that his thoughts were divided.

"On the one hand, I am angry in that instant, yet on the other my fans -- and perhaps some of them are fans who have hacked me -- come to my concerts to hear a certain song that was hacked. The only thing I have against the matter is when a song is leaked that is not finished. Perhaps there is a place for greater engagement with fans by releasing media about the production of songs or other forms of creativity so that everyone knows when something is in progress and when it is a finished, because once hacked you cannot get an unfinished piece back."

A week before IBC2012, Will.i.am had the honour of hearing his latest single premiered 166 million miles from Earth via the Curiosity rover stationed on the surface of Mars.

What's more, space agency NASA marked the occasion by partnering with the hip hop impresario's i.am.angel foundation which provides mentoring and college scholarships to youngsters in Boyle Heights, the Los Angeles neighbourhood where he grew up.

Both events reveal two of the driving forces in his life: the fusion of high-concept technology with creativity and the power of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) to help the disadvantaged.

"How can youngsters become the next Mark Zuckerberg if they are credit illiterate and technology illiterate?" Will.i.am asked. "My mission over the next 20 years is to change that scenario for the people of Boyle Heights."

As Intel's Director of Creative Innovation, the Black Eyed Peas frontman has collaborated with the chip maker's scientists, programmers, and marketers to promote content, technology, and hardware strategies, chiefly among Intel's Ultrabook notebook line.

"I didn't want to just put my signature on some product," he said. "Intel makes the brain -- that's why I wanted to hook up with them.

Elaborating he added: "The music industry has moved from selling music on gramophones to selling songs as files. I want to move from selling songs on iTunes to selling hardware -- intelligent hardware.

"The biggest pieces of hardware in anyone's life are their house and car, yet these are also the dumbest. The car should be the most intelligent thing you own and it should talk to the house which is even more intelligent. Instead of giving all the content and data which we consume and create to private organisations, we should be able to keep and access them via cloud storage in our own homes powered by servers kept in the fridge."

Will.i.am tweets to 20 million fans but doesn't agree with Facebook's founder that the age of privacy is over.

"My public life is sharing my perspective and art and passion, but I still have a private life and I hold onto it for dear life," he said. "Mark Zuckerberg's point is that a lot of people live their lives on Facebook.

"I believe creativity enhanced by technology has the capacity to change cultures for the better. Technology allows us to amplify our ideas, amplify our creativity, and find new ways of solving problems."

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