DICT chief backs calls for AI regulation in workplace

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 15) — The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is studying requests to regulate the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace, its chief said Thursday.

“I am for regulation of AI. I would respond positively to the appeal of all the leaders of the AI, technology that government has to come in,” said DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy.

The DICT chief said he is coordinating with his counterparts in other countries to gather best practices in AI use. Earlier this year, Uy had a discussion on AI regulation with peers from the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“We have a consensus that government should come in and find ways to regulate it to ensure that AI is beneficial, that it is interoperable, it is transparent and it is accountable. Hindi yung basta basta lang nakakalat ito dahil [So it’s not all over the place because] it’s a very powerful tool,” Uy said.

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Senator Imee Marcos earlier called for an inquiry on the use of AI, claiming it may pose a threat to the business process outsourcing (BPO) and original equipment manufacturing (OEM) industries.

Citing a study, Marcos said 1.1 million jobs in the Philippines would disappear by 2028 because of AI.

Senator Risa Hontiveros also called on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to take steps to protect the BPO industry amid the rise of AI chatbots.

Uy argued that job loss is inevitable whenever a new technology or innovation enters the workplace and it is essential to teach employees how to use technology to boost productivity.

“AI will not replace the person. What will replace the person is another person who knows how to use AI. That’s why it’s critical that we, by understanding how AI works, should learn how to leverage it, how to use it, in order to empower our workforce,” he said.

Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma believes human resources cannot be totally replaced by technology except for sectors that rely heavily on technology and machinery. Laguesma agreed that workers must be prepared for any jobs brought forth by AI.

Meanwhile, University of the Philippines -- Diliman AI Program Director Rex Eugene Jalao, called on lawmakers to craft policies that will balance AI regulation, using technology to improve processes and job security.

These policies should be consulted with experts and various stakeholders, technology expert Art Samaniego said.

“We need to have transparency. Ano ba talagang ginagawa ng AI application mo? And we need to have accountability, kapag may ginawang masama ang AI na ginawa mo, AI na na-create ng company mo, dapat may punishment ka,” he said.

[Translation: We need to have transparency. What does your AI application actually do? And we need to have accountability, when the AI you created does something bad, you should be punished.]