The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) have collaborated to organize a comprehensive learning session on Artificial Intelligence (AI) tailored for key policymakers and media stakeholders.

This initiative aims to drive the modernization of current Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT) laws, fostering a deeper understanding of AI's implications and opportunities within the Philippine landscape.

Supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the roundtable discussion titled 'Introduction to AI and Emerging Technologies,' provided an overview of emerging AI tech using a hands-on approach for participants to better understand how the technology works.

According to PCC executive director Kenneth V. Tanate, the recently held session was aimed at fostering an open dialogue among experts, policymakers, and stakeholders to inform policy development in Congress.

By updating legislation, the government can use and regulate AI so that citizens and businesses can take full advantage of technology in safe and productive ways, he added.

The advent of AI and other emerging technologies ushers in a new era of innovation, possibilities, and challenges. To harness its full potential in boosting socio-economic development, adequate policies must consider its ethical, societal, and governance issues.

Tanate expressed hope that the roundtable discussions would enhance understanding of the opportunities and challenges posed by AI.

'Through these sessions, I hope that we can weigh the innovative promises of AI while also considering ethical and legal implications these might have on our society. Through careful study and assessment, I believe we can harness the benefits of AI in industries that need such innovation the most, while also tempering whatever unintended negative consequences might come with it,' he said.

'This is why the PCC has sought to be proactive in confronting such issues, assessing how they can both help and harm the country's competitive business environment,' Tanate added.

In November 2022, the PCC participated in the Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI) forum on AI, which explored how AI can benefit various sectors including agriculture, finance and healthcare.

Most recently, in November 2023, the PCC hosted the 10th ASEAN Competition Conference where experts delved into the intersections of AI with labor rights, IP rights, and market competition.

Jaemark Tordecilla, former editor-in-chief at GMA News Online, now a specialist in journalism innovation and digital transformation, led the session as the subject matter expert. He joined remotely from Harvard University in Massachusetts, U.S. where he is currently a fellow.

'I don't think it's going to be effective if it's just the government telling everyone what needs to be done. Different industries, for example, us in the media, we need to have positions on what we can ask for when we talk to policymakers and regulators about these industries. It's important to engage the technology companies, to press them on what kind of guardrails they can put into their technologies,' Tordecilla noted.

The introductory roundtable on AI is the first of six sessions to be hosted monthly until September this year. The series will also feature new and emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, blockchain, and cloud computing, among others, towards informed and future-ready legislation in the Philippines.

'It's imperative to recognize the critical role of ICT policies in enabling the potential of AI and its transformative impact on our work… In our efforts to bridge the digital gap, policies like the Konektadong Pinoy Bill (formerly known as the Open Access in Data Transmission bill) and reforms in spectrum management are crucial. By advocating for these reforms, we aim to ensure that every community, regardless of their location or economic background, can access dependable and high-speed internet services, and take advantage of opportunities enabled by the internet, such as AI,' said NEDA Undersecretary Krystal Uy.

NEDA, PCC, and USAID have been united in advocating to update ICT laws in the Philippines such as the Radio Control Law of 1931 and the Telecommunications Act of 1995.

Earlier this year, NEDA and World Bank independently released policy studies emphasizing the critical need for modernized ICT laws. Both studies underscored the urgency of enacting the Open Access in Data Transmission, also as the 'Konektadong Pinoy' bill. This legislation is deemed essential for promoting a more competitive ICT sector, which in turn promises faster, more reliable, and more affordable internet access.

Copyright © 2022 PhilSTAR Daily, Inc Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (