Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña (File Photo)

MANILA – Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña reminded engineers that while there are many opportunities and benefits one can get from emerging technologies, these may also bring potential risks.

Speaking at the 16th National Congress of the Philippine Institute of Industrial Engineers (PIIE) in Pasay City over the weekend, Dela Peña talked about how technology is being maximized as countries gear up for the Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 was defined as "the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing, and cognitive computing".

"Among the breakthroughs that characterize Industry 4.0 are IoT (internet of things), AI (artificial intelligence), 3D printing, big data and analytics, advanced robotics, blockchain. I am proud to say we have invested in most of these things," he said.

IoT, 5G, and mobile phones in digital technology will lead to more developments and employment, but may also lead to skills gaps, Dela Peña pointed out.

AI, speech recognition, on the other hand, will help provide opportunities in safety and security, but these emerging technologies pose potential risks in the same aspects, too, according to him.

"For instance, in biotechnology, there is genomics, gene-editing. These are good for food, crops, and human health. But these (technologies) might also result in irreversible changes in the environment, military use, among others," he said.

He added that toxicity is the potential risk in nanotechnology for decentralized water and wastewater treatment, even if these technologies provide opportunities in the energy and water sectors.

Meanwhile, Dela Peña said the DOST has the following priority areas in using AI in research and development (R&D):

1. Education - intelligent tutors and conversation agents;
2. Security - facial recognition;
3. Health - detection of illnesses; and
4. Machine-assisted communication.

He invited the engineers to join the DOST in its R&D initiatives, noting that the agency is enhancing its R&D capabilities by expanding its pool of R&D workers and institutions.

"We are improving our S&T (science and technology) infrastructure and accelerating technology transfer," he said. "We are all players for an enabling environment. Let us collaborate and commit to inclusive development." (PNA)