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Why was will.i.am at the World Economic Forum?

Lucy Dean
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - MAY 11: Rapper will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas performs onstage during day two of KAABOO Texas at AT&T Stadium on May 11, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage)
Will.i.am was at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Image: Getty

Will.i.am is best known for his career with the Black Eyed Peas, his multiple-award winning music and, more recently, run-ins with Qantas flight attendants.

However, the high-powered musician made headlines for an entirely different reason this week: his attendance at the World Economic Forum’s summit in Davos.

Every year, the world’s business leaders, politicians and environmental advocates descend on the snowy city of Davos to discuss inequality, financial markets and the future.

So why was will.i.am there?

The Emmy- and Grammy-award winner was there to launch artificial intelligence platform I.AM+ with tech giant IBM.

The tool allows businesses to develop human-like conversational interactions.

Will.i.am described the tech as “ethical AI”.

"Delivering AI solutions to industries like retail and entertainment, where personal data is everywhere, it was a top priority to find a cloud provider with deep roots in security, trust and transparency; we got that with IBM public cloud," said will.i.am.

The tool will be used to meet companies’ desires for AI and cloud services that are both personalised and secure, and that can run across multiple public cloud, private cloud and company infrastructures.

Montreal AI company Stradigi AI in May last year announced will.i.am would act as AI adviser for its bias and ethics division, where he would focus on building products that empowered users.

The artist is also a member of two World Economic Forum working groups, the Global Artificial Intelligence Council and the Fourth Industrial Revolution Advisory Committee.

Celebrities at Davos

The annual meeting is always sprinkled with stars, with Bollywood star Deepika Padukone this year receiving an award at Davos for spreading mental health awareness.

Emma Watson has also spoken on financial gender equality at Davos, while Leonardo Dicaprio has also taken to the Swiss city to blast “corporate greed” and call for action on climate change.

And musical icon Shakira called for the elite to support future leaders in Davos in 2017.

"Today's babies will drive tomorrow's business. Their capacity to contribute will shape tomorrow's societies, will solve tomorrow's problems," the Colombian star, and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador said in a speech.

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