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The Philippines, United Arab Emirates Collaborate on AI

Image Credit: Department of Foreign Affairs

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) conducted its first foreign mission to the United Arab Emirates with the goal of initiating cooperation in artificial intelligence (AI) to bolster and benefit both Filipino and Emirate stakeholders. During the mission, DOST presented “AI-INNOVATE: The Philippine Experience in Artificial Intelligence” at the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (STRIP) and at the Philippine Bangkota at the 2022 Dubai Expo. According to DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña, the delegation discussed the agency’s AI priorities, programmes, and the Philippine AI roadmap.

STRIP is an innovation ecosystem that promotes research and development and supports enterprise activities and the collaboration of industry, government, and academia. The delegation was led by the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) Executive Director, Dr Enrico C. Paringit. He gave an overview of the Philippine AI strategy through DOST’s upskilling programmes for more than 350,000 graduates of AI-related courses. The strategy encourages AI startups and builds partnerships with other countries to strengthen the Philippines’ AI readiness. An example of a successful DOST-supported startup is Fish-I, which is a semi-automated fish census system for the quick, accurate identification, numbering, and monitoring of over 3,000 fish species across the Philippines.

As per a press release, the team also met with UAE’s Ministry of Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications. The two sides exchanged notes on their respective experiences in building AI-readiness for the government and the people and discussed promoting AI, creating awareness within the workforce, educating the public, building infrastructure, empowering startups and companies, and building partnerships with other countries and institutions. The two Ministries agreed to continue working together through a possible memorandum of understanding (MoU) on AI.

AI is widely used in education, medicine, business, engineering, and the arts, and has been integrated into the government and business sectors across the world. The Philippines was ranked 51st out of 132 economies in the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO) Global Innovation Index (GII) study released last year, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 and a decreasing budget for research and development. As OpenGov Asia reported, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) announced the government and private sector are working together to expand AI technology in the country. The government believes the Philippines could be a leading big data processing hub.

The DTI released the industry blueprint in May 2020, which made the Philippines one of the first 50 countries in the world to launch a national AI roadmap. AI adoption has the potential to add US$92 billion to the Philippine economy by 2030. As per the national AI roadmap, the country will establish a government-initiated National Centre for AI Research, which will be led by the private sector (NCAIR).

The DTI’s AI roadmap also seeks to provide direction on the use of AI to sustain local industries’ regional and worldwide competitiveness, as well as identify priority areas for the government, industry, and society to invest time and resources in technology application.

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