Solon seeks creation of agency to tackle AI threats

By Zaldy De Layola

July 23, 2023, 7:25 pm

<p>Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers <em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (PNA file photo)

MANILA – A Mindanao legislator on Sunday called on the country’s policymakers to create an agency that would tackle issues confronting the rise of artificial intelligence.

Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said the agency should be tasked to craft and issue guidelines concerning the governance and ethics in the use, development and implementation of a national Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategy.

This body shall act as a “guardrail” whose main task is to filter and regulate the powerful apps that could be offered by AI technology.

Barbers, chair of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, said regulators across the world – from the United States, Great Britain, European Union, and even Asian countries like Singapore – are currently rushing to draft regulations to govern the use of the booming AI technology.

Early this year, Barbers filed House Bill No. 7396, calling for the creation of a “superbody” to be known as the “Artificial Intelligence Development Authority (AIDA),” to oversee the development and deployment of AI technologies, ensuring compliance with AI ethics principles and guidelines, and protecting the rights and welfare of individuals and communities affected by AI technologies.

While the rapid phase of technological advancement in AI provides huge potential for the development of the people and the economy, Barbers said it poses risks and challenges including the possibility of job displacement.

AI technology may be of great help during calamities such as typhoons, floods, earthquakes and fire, but Barbers said the country must also be prepared for the possible hazards or dangers the AI technology may bring.

Recently, the University of the Philippines (UP) released a draft set of 10 guiding principles on the “responsible use” of AI in response to the rapid development and adoption of the technology, especially in an academic environment.

The draft text outlines the “UP Principles for Responsible Artificial Intelligence” use and development in the university and for the public good. It asked students, teachers and other members of the UP community to make suggestions to improve the draft.

On the issue of possible job displacement, Barbers said he has received reports that the local BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) industry, where there are more than 528,000 call center employees, as well other industries involving online marketing and search engine optimization, finance, health care organizations, transportation, retail, among others, may be affected by the entry and use of AI technology in the country.

Earlier, Geoffrey Hinton, a former Engineer of Google and dubbed as the “Godfather of AI,” disclosed that the new technology he helped develop poses a danger to society and humanity.

“As I have said earlier, we should have a “watchdog” to guard against unscrupulous individuals, like bandits or terrorist groups, that would take advantage of or use it for their selfish or criminal ends. It’s not good if we will just take this matter for granted),” he said. (PNA)