By Florangel Rosario Braid
The buzzwords today are AI (artificial intelligence), ML (machine learning), data analytics, and other so-called “disruptive technologies.” For many senior citizens who, for years have been used to a more stable and predictable environment, entering into this exciting world of robots and new technologies can be confusing, destabilizing, and mind-boggling, to say the least.
But if one wants to “survive,” one must not only understand the language of the new world, but be open to the various alternatives before us since all of us will be affected by them. As consumers, we shall be confronted with a variety of decision alternatives – whether access to consumer goods and services, or financial transactions, delivery of health services, and learning.
But it will be in the formal institutions – government, business, and especially the financial and employment market that will be most affected. Thus, for many of the non-tech savvy, we now need to put our safety belts on as we explore the vastness and implications of the new territory of artificial intelligence, robotics, cloud computing, and automation. And, for current bureaucrats, decision-makers of government and industry and especially the young, aspiring entrepreneurs and professionals, there is no turning back but to embrace this new techno future.
For those needing background, one way is by doing a Google search on what experts and opinion makers are saying about how these technologies and their impact on our lives. Unlike the coming of Internet and the new technologies that accompanied it which just came unexpectedly, one has today, more information than what is needed. The entries in the Google search would take you to initiatives being pursued by the business and academic communities, international development agencies, think tanks, and professional development and research institutes. This ensures that the transition into the AI or ML-enabled future becomes smooth. Conferences, workshops are conducted to provide would-be technology decision makers, information on what the new technologies offer, impact of the technology on current operations, and economics of the technologies, etc. Change management workshops prepare decision-makers on the cost-effectiveness of use of AI, ML, and data analytics and alternative policies and restructuring that needs to be implemented. Transformative outcomes include a “connected business world” and participative customer relationship, data-powered decision-making, innovative risk and security strategies, and technology maturity driven by customer obsession with everything “tech.” All these are forecasted in a technology future where these data machines and AI will work in a “digital world of highly intelligent decisions and systems that have the power to replace many traditional human tasks…In this world, we hope to see machines working as participative assets with human experts.”
Thus, decision-makers are presented with a non-threatening world as the machines and AI are shown merely as “assets” and assistants of human decision-makers. And, they are also presented a bottom line which shows an ROI of 200% over five years. And for four ASEAN member countries studied – Malaysia, Siingapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines where AI has the potential to automate roughly half of work activities of these four big economieis, a profit of more than $900 billion.
And is our country prepared? If not, how can we prepare for it?
The government, through the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is committed to retooling the workforce by developing skills in analytics, mobile applications and cloud computing. The downside, however, is that we do not yet have the right infrastructure to take advantages of AI. The prospects of layoffs are real especially in the BPO industry. We have been the top BPO destination for sometime but we have failed to upskill our workforce. The International Labor Organization foresees that 49% of Philippine employment faces risks due to automation. We lack enough techno entrepreneurs as most of those trained have left abroad for better opportunities
According to Womenpowered Institute founder, Mary Rose Rontal, the Philippines will take at least five years to develop our capability for AI and data analytics. Her organization conducts data analytic training in Davao to expose the young to technology. The government, she noted, must focus on training for high-level skills, not just secretarial jobs. We need developers, programmers, and designers. Augmented reality and virtual reality will be skills needed and are foreseen as the strongest industries in the coming years.
Voice recognition is another data-driven technology that continues to make its way into most use, according to another data scientist and founder of Data seer, Isaac Reyes who observed that machines do credit risk modeling better than humans.
Thus, the challenge for the Department of Education, DOST, and the Commission on Higher Education to focus on the needed skills. And for professional development institutes which can offer non-degree short term courses for those already employed in information-related activities.
My email, Florangel.firstname.lastname@example.org