Business

Will.I.Am challenges underprivileged kids to look up to tech founders

Will.I.Am wants kids to stop dreaming of being a rapper and start dreaming of being a technologist.

The Black Eyed Peas musician spoke today at Macworld 2013 about a variety of projects he’s doing with “Intel Futurist” Brian David Johnson and about his desire to get kids interesting in “disruption” and creating jobs in less-privileged areas. He talked about his neighborhood growing up.

“I come from the projects, I come from the ghetto, and right next to my projects are factories. And right now those factories are abandoned,” he said during his talk.

He then showed off his newest product, called the i.am+ foto.sosho, a piece of hardware that slips over your iPhone and allows you to take pictures, edit them, and send them to the Internet without connecting to a computer. He described the process of getting the i.ams in retail stores by the holidays — it was really easy. Likely because of his celebrity (and maybe because it’s a cool looking product) he’s got major retailers carrying the product, and big window displays.

Looking back, he said, “This picture is telling me that I need to go back to the factories and create jobs in the projects.”

It’s this kind of mindset he wants children growing up in his neighborhood and across the world to take on: using tech to “disrupt the conversation” and then bring it home. He said tech disruption can actually be rude. It’s like interrupting a conversation at a party, he said, but you need to make that old conversation and “render it obsolete.” Make people laugh, change the subject.

He used Instagram as an example, saying they rendered Kodak obsolete. These are the new role models children need.

“You don’t want to think outside the box, you want to think inside the box, kick the box, and make it a circle,” said Will.I.Am during his talk.

Will.I.Am photo via Meghan Kelly/VentureBeat


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