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The Philippines launches National AI Roadmap

The Philippines’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) launched the national artificial intelligence (AI) roadmap which made the Philippines one of the first 50 countries in the world to have a national strategy and policy on AI.

The DTI said that AI adoption can increase Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) by 12% by 2030, or equivalent to US$92 billion based on research estimates. The agency added that the AI roadmap aims to accelerate the adoption and utilisation of AI in the country to advance industrial development, generate better quality entrepreneurship, and higher-paying opportunities for Filipinos. Through the AI roadmap, they hope to establish the Philippines as an AI Centre for Excellence in the region that is backed by a local talent pool and vibrant innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

As the country aims to be an AI powerhouse in the region, the roadmap will establish the private sector-led National Centre for AI Research (NCAIR) which will serve as a shared hub for AI research. Also, the agency stated that the AI roadmap would help the country to be a hub for data processing providing high-value data analytics and AI services to the world given the country’s strong business process management sector.

Among the applications of AI are in real estate, banking and financial services, surveillance, retail and e-commerce, education, space exploration, agribusiness, urban planning, manufacturing, healthcare, and logistics and transportation.AI would also help government services become more efficient, said the agency.

With the launching of the AI roadmap, the DTI targets to guide the use of AI to maintain the regional and global competitiveness of local industries; and identify key areas, in both research and development and technology application, for investing time and resources of government, industry, and broader society. It also aims to recommend ways for effectively fostering a triple-helix of research and development (R&D) collaboration among government, industry, and academe, which would be essential to national development; put forward approaches for preparing the future workforce for the jobs of the future; and attract the biggest industries to set shop in the country, which would generate more jobs for Filipinos.

The agency emphasised that AI is a vital innovation amid the COVID-19 pandemic where human-to-human interaction should be limited. AI can also be used in contact tracing, health assessment and monitoring, knowledge management, and addressing supply chain issues. While there is this fear that AI will automate so many jobs that millions of Filipinos might find themselves unemployed, this fear should instead be viewed as opportunities for new possibilities. The structure of the workforce will change. Newer, better, and higher-income jobs will emerge. AI will also allow the country to create a knowledge-based economy, which we can leverage to create a more inclusive and prosperous society.

The rapid adoption of digital technologies can help the Philippines overcome the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, recover from the crisis, and achieve its vision of becoming a middle-class society free of poverty, according to a report released by the World Bank and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

However, the use of digital technologies in the Philippines is still below its potential, with the country’s digital adoption generally trailing behind many regional neighbours. The “digital divide” between those with and without the internet leads to unequal access to social services and life-changing economic opportunities.

In this society-wide digital transformation, the government can take the lead by speeding up e-governance projects, such as the foundational identification system and the digitisation of its processes and procedures, which will help promote greater inclusion, improve efficiency, and enhance security. The government can take an active role in fostering policies that reduce the digital divide and create a more conducive business environment for the digital economy to flourish, said the report.

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