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Congress urged to pass national AI policy

Lawmakers were urged on Tuesday to institutionalize a national policy amid the advancement of AI technology.

At a forum organized by the National Academy of Science and Technology in Quezon City, University of the Philippines industrial engineering professor Eugene Rex Jalao said several countries have already adopted measures on AI.

''We already have an AI strategy founded by DTI (the Department of Trade and Industry), and hopefully that will be adopted by Congress. Hopefully, we will be able to push our AI strategy. The US and China are way ahead in terms of building AI and IT,''  said Jalao, who is also the AI program coordinator at the UP Diliman College of Engineering.

A bill seeking to establish a regulatory framework for the development and use of artificial intelligence systems is still pending approval in Congress.

Introduced by Quezon 4th District Representative Keith Micah Tan in May 2023, House Bill 7913 also aims to establish the Philippine Council on Artificial Intelligence, a policy-making and advisory body of experts under the Department of Science and Technology.

Its proposed functions include the conduct of an evaluation on the impact of Al systems and the development of Al economies in the country; reviewing existing policies on Al; and determining the structures or parameters under which Al systems may operate in the country.

The bill also proposes the creation of the Artificial Intelligence Board to serve as regulatory and supervisory authority over the development, application, and use of AI systems.

It penalizes any person who uses ''Al system that shall cause unnecessary, unjustifiable, and indiscriminate moral or pecuniary damage to individuals.''

The government has already drafted a national AI plan, even in the absence of legislation.

Last November, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual told a meeting with Silicon Valley technology companies and investors in California that the national AI strategy developed by the DTI is composed of four strategic dimensions.

These are digitalization and infrastructure, workforce development, regulation, and research and development.

The DTI stated that because these strategic aspects will allow sectors to adapt to the rapidly changing demands of technology, they are anticipated to be the driving force behind the country's economic growth and expansion.

The national AI strategy also aims to identify key sectors for technology and R&D investment, promote R&D collaboration, keep local industries competitive in the region and worldwide, prepare the workforce for new jobs, and draw major industries to the Philippines so they can create jobs.

''Right now, there is really a demand for AI talents. We really need to work on how we actually supply the demand,'' said Robert Kerwin Billones, a full professor and research fellow at the De La Salle University Department of Manufacturing Engineering and Management.

Some topics also discussed during the forum were the use of AI for weather prediction, agriculture, and business and infrastructure requirements. — VBL, GMA Integrated News