DTI asks for ₱200 million for AI Center

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 3) —The Department of Trade Industry (DTI) on Tuesday said it has resubmitted a ₱200 million budget proposal for the establishment of Center for Artificial Intelligence Research (CAIR) in San Pedro Laguna.

The AI center will house data scientists, researchers, and engineers whose AI projects will support the needs of MSMEs and startups, large companies and multinationals, DTI Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba said during the Senate deliberations on the proposed 2024 budget of DTI and its attached agencies.

"The goal of course is for us to become an AI center of excellence in the region in the near future," Aldaba added about the proposal being submitted by the department

She said the center will provide training and capacity building on AI "so new products and services, IPs will come out to this center."

DTI Secretary Alfredo Pascual and Aldaba confirmed that Aboitiz and UnionBank have provided them a space in San Pedro, Laguna but the department has yet to utilize it due to lack of resources.

Senator Loren Legarda then suggested that DTI begin the AI research activities first while waiting for the approval of the infrastructure.

However, Aldaba said the agency has no sufficient space to fully cater to research activities, adding that it needs supercomputers and salaries to hire staff.

"We do a lot of workshops and seminars to help people become aware of the usefulness of adapting to AI technologies," Aldaba noted.

Aldaba added that the DTI already has an AI roadmap and is forming a task force to craft a governance framework that would address concerns regarding artificial intelligence.

“AI can also be used to promote bad things but what we are promoting is good AI and responsible AI," she said.

In the same hearing, Pascual said that the Philippines should participate in more international conferences to promote its economic sector.

"Participation in international conferences. This will entail significant expenses so we need funding for these activities. We need to be seen and heard by prospective foreign investors," he said.

The proposed 2024 budget of DTI is ₱7.909 billion, including ₱5.319 billion for the Office of the Secretary and ₱2.341 billion for attached agencies.