Agile regulation necessary amid firms’ growing adoption of AI

Agile regulation necessary amid firms’ growing adoption of AI

By Miguel Hanz L. Antivola, Reporter

THE ADOPTION of artificial intelligence (AI) among Philippine organizations is expected to grow next year, prompting the need for focused and agile regulation amid privacy concerns, industry officials said.

“We’ve let the genie out of the bottle already, so it’s going to be a matter of course,” Peachy Pacquing, managing director at creative business school Hyper Island, told BusinessWorld on the sidelines of an event.

“Some industries are more prepared than others, but by and large, we’re not prepared yet,” she added. “We need to talk about it, and more than that, act on it.”

Ronald B. Gustilo, national campaigner for Digital Pinoys, said AI adoption in the country is expected to increase next year amid continued infrastructure improvement, especially in the governance, healthcare, finance, and education sectors.

“This integration is poised to play a crucial role in advancing the nation’s technological landscape,” he added.

The Trade department earlier said that AI could contribute as much as $90 billion to the Philippine economy by 2030.

International Data Corp. said the Philippines ranked 12th out of 14 economies in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of AI adoption for business and consumer transactions.

Meanwhile, a report released by technology firm Cisco this month said only 17% of Philippine organizations are ready to utilize and deploy AI, with the majority of them raising concerns about the impact of not adopting these advances.

It added that about 44% of Philippine organizations consider themselves chasers or are only moderately prepared, while 35% are followers with limited levels of preparedness and about 4% are laggards, or those not prepared to leverage AI at all.

A thoughtful and strategic approach is needed when adopting AI, Mr. Gustilo said.

“Leveraging insights from nations that have successfully implemented AI, nurturing public-private partnerships, and allocating resources to AI education are pivotal steps that can elevate the Philippines’ standing in the region,” he said.

“A focused strategy is imperative to navigate the diverse landscape of progress and ensure a seamless assimilation of AI advancements across different sectors,” Mr. Gustilo added.

AI is still “very conceptual, unless it is being offered to the B2B (business-to-business) and corporate sector for execution,” Donald Lim, chief innovation officer at holding company Udenna Corp., said in an interview.

“Once AI is [more] consumerized like ChatGPT, you’ll see more and more discussions on the consumer segment,” he said.

There are already some applications of AI in the Philippine setting, he said, like in call centers.

“If they call, track, or text you, you are already more known and targeted, which is why privacy becomes more important,” he said.

Speed and scale should be taken into account by organizations and regulators when discussing AI, Mr. Lim said.

“Just make it open. Don’t clock down when it shouldn’t be. We really need AI to push us forward and move us onto the next level,” he said.

Still, ethical considerations must precede all other considerations as the technology intersects with data privacy issues, Mr. Gustilo noted.

“Collaborating with industry experts, adhering to international standards, and maintaining policy adaptability to accommodate evolving AI technologies are indispensable elements for ensuring responsible AI use,” he said.

“Striking a delicate balance between fostering innovation and implementing safeguards is paramount as the Philippines charts its course through the intricate terrain of artificial intelligence in 2024,” he added.

Mr. Lim said the Philippines is far from being a leading producer of AI solutions in the region.

“We’re not creators of technology or software solutions, but that’s okay. We’re not the creator of TikTok or Facebook, but we became the primary users of it globally,” he added.

As for regulating the use of AI, there is a need to push against the narrative that policy will always trail behind technology, Ms. Pacquing noted.

“If you’re a regulator or policy writer, you have every opportunity to be just as agile as a technologist… I only hear excuses. There must be speed, but very calculated intentional speed, in creating these policies,” she said, citing Singapore, where she is based, as an example, noting that policies there related to technology evolve in real time.

“My fearless forecast is all bets are off… It really depends on us as individuals to say this is important and therefore, we will invest in and develop our ability to work alongside AI,” Ms. Pacquing added.