Gov’t crafting AI road map to improve PH productivity

By Azer Parrocha

July 17, 2019, 7:37 pm

MANILA -- The Philippine government is crafting an artificial intelligence (AI) road map to improve productivity and economic growth in the country, a Trade official bared on Wednesday.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba said an AI task force composed of seven agencies will be drafting the road map, which is expected to make the country more globally competitive.

Aside from the DTI, members of AI task force include Departments of Agriculture, Science and Technology, Information and Communications Technology, Education, the Commission on Higher Education and National Economic and Development Authority.

These agencies have previously signed a memorandum of understanding for the implementation of the Filipinnovation and Entrepreneurship Roadmap, which is meant to build regional inclusive innovations centers (RIICs) across the country.

“Doon sa (On the) AI, we’re trying to form a task force, like what I’ve said, because this is really going to affect many industries,” Aldaba said in an economic briefing in Malacañang.

“We have crafted an AI general… it’s a very broad roadmap. We’ve identified the different elements that are necessary, but since it was carried out by a few people, and what we want is to present it to this AI task force and find out ways by which we could fine tune and eventually to launch and present to public,” she added.

Aldaba is hoping that the task force will be formally conceived by August this year.

“We will also be having a public forum and hopefully next month, ma-present na, magkaroon ng (we can present this, we can have) focused group discussions in order for us to find out also kung ano yung mga paghahanda and pag-iisip ng iba’t-ibang mga sectors natin (what kind of preparations and ideas our different sectors have),” Aldaba said.

The government will also receive help from private stakeholders - including the Asian Institute of Management, the USAID’s through its Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development, and state-universities, research institutions, and members of the industry.

Embrace new tech

Aldaba, meanwhile, emphasized the importance of shifting towards new technology to make the manufacturing industry more efficient and scalable to be able to leapfrog to industrial development.

“Kailangang-kailangan po natin iyon, kasi medyo naudlot iyong ating industrialization (We really need that because our industrialization is lagging behind). So, this time around, gusto natin na talagang magtuluy-tuloy iyong ating industrialization (we really want our industrialization to continue),” Aldaba said.

She pointed out the need to “embrace” new technologies, encourage innovation, and research and development and provide support for start-ups.

“Embrace po natin itong mga bagong technologies because they can help us improve our productivity and our competitiveness,” she added.

This way, she said the government could start to attract more investments, create more and better jobs, increase participation in global value chains which are going to increase exports.

“We want more and better jobs, high paying jobs because that’s the only way by which we will be able to reduce poverty and shared prosperity for all,” Aladaba said.

The Trade official, however, noted the need to reskill the work force by improving the country’s education system, ease of doing business, and building infrastructure.

“Concerted efforts are needed to ensure that the shift towards the new digital economy or Industry 4.0 does not leave any person, any enterprise particularly our SMEs (small, medium-sized enterprises) or region behind,” the DTI official said.

“Hence, the need for us also to adjust our education and training system that would deliver the necessary skills required in the digital economy, specifically we would like to focus our efforts in terms of being able to develop our STEM (science, technology engineering, mathematics) education. But we can also include STEAM, so iyong ‘A’ would stand for agriculture as well as for the arts,” she added. (PNA)