Pop star Will.i.am: 'companies are selling your data - right now'

The performer said technological advancements must serve people not big business

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - February 10, 2019: Will i am, founder of I.AM and Alain Bejjani, CEO at Majid Al Futtaim at the official launch of Omega platform during day 1 at the World Government Summit. Sunday the 10th of February 2019 at Madinat, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Pop star Will.i.am told an audience at the World Government Summit that "companies are accessing and selling your data - right now."

The Black Eyed Peas member said it is vital that advances in technology are used for the "good of humanity" and not to serve big business.

The entertainer turned entrepreneur said that the protection of data should be preserved as a 'human right" as advances in technology continue at a rapid rate.

He was speaking during a launch event for the Omega platform, a voice assisted technology that he has developed through his artificial intelligence (AI) company IAM+.

One of the key aspects of the project, according to Will.I.Am, was that it respected user privacy when it came to the use of data.

“Our vision is that data is a human right and the same goes for AI too,” he said.

“Our business model is not Google, Amazon or Apple, we have the luxury of starting from scratch to provide a service for people not for big business, the mission is to use AI for the good of humanity.”

He said the way that the Omega platform was created would allow users to be assured their data would not be accessed by the app.

“Right now your data is being used and sold by companies without your discretion.

“This is a way for you to retain your data and live an enriched life in this world we are in today.”

He said the Omega platform was being launched from this region because the Middle East had yet to contribute to global connectivity the same way other continents had.

“This is a great launchpad to create a platform with new jobs and companies that spring from Omega.

The project was launched in association with the Dubai-based real estate and retail conglomorate, Majid Al Futtaim.

“There is so much opportunity here," he said.

The Omega platform allows users to activate the AI without having to access their data, giving it an advantage over other AIs such as Siri and Alexa.

He added that the opportunity to have the product connected to the Middle East gave it certain advantages.

“Look at the size of Google and Apple but yet nobody has created a voice system that dealt with all dialects,” he said.

“There is a big opportunity to focus on that and stay on target. I don’t want to get wrapped up in numberland but the opportunity is here.”

Will.i.am said that AI, particularly conversational computing, was the new frontier when it came to human advancement.

“For me, it used to be music rhythms, now it’s algorithms – I used to be in a band with four others and now I have a team of 280 people working with me on this project,” he said.

Also present at the launch was Alain Bejjani, CEO at Majid Al Futtaim Holding.

He said that backing the project was a no-brainer for his company.

“Omega is going to add a new dimension to all our lives, we are adopting it as the entry point to our digital ecosystem at Majid Al Futtaim,” he said.

“We are an investor in the project as well as a commercial partner in this part of the world.

“Our strategy is to be as prominent digitally as we are physically.”

He said that offering digital access via voice command was the latest step in the evolution of digital technology and the project would place Majid Al Futtaim at the forefront of the movement.