By Jenina P. Ibañez, May 6, 2021; Business World

https://www.bworldonline.com/philippines-plans-to-establish-artificial-intelligence-research-center/

The government plans to build a national center for artificial intelligence (AI) research that will help the private sector develop new technologies.

A goal under the artificial intelligence roadmap launched on Wednesday, the National Center for AI Research (N-CAIR) will employ full-time research scientists and engineers.

“The N-CAIR will encourage companies to adopt AI by building their capacity to produce new products, processes and services that use AI,” Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said at the launch.

The AI roadmap outlined 42 “strategic tasks” or goals that cover regulation, workforce development, research and development, and digitization and infrastructure.

One of the tasks is the creation of the AI research center, which Asian Institute of Management-Aboitiz Chairman in Data Science Christopher P. Monterola said would be run by private companies and would be central to regional hubs identified by the government.

“The idea is for this to make the companies in the Philippines competitive,” he said, adding that the facilities would house national data and research cloud centers.

The center in its first three to five years will prioritize agricultural technology and aquaculture, transportation and urban science, smart manufacturing, healthcare and resilience or disaster-management technology.

The success of the roadmap can be measured by internet speed and reliability, the global innovation index ranking, the quality of education rankings, labor market efficiency and employment, and the number of new businesses that use AI as critical components of products, Mr. Monterola said.

The Philippines will also try to attract top global companies to work on research and development in the country, he added.

The center will help small businesses improve productivity through data science and analytics, according to Mr. Lopez.

“The potential AI applications that can benefit companies include avoiding spoilage of agricultural produce, predicting maintenance of equipment, optimizing processes in factories, and enhancing business decision-making through advanced analytics. This will lead to more operational efficiencies and innovation,” he said.

Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines President and Chief Executive Officer Rey E. Untal is hoping that the center will help create higher value work in advanced technologies after noting a lack of upskilling opportunities for professionals.

“There is room and great opportunity for the industry to partner with N-CAIR in this case to work on comprehensive programs that will utilize real-life use cases across the variety of industries that we service,” he said.

The Trade department worked with data scientists from the Asian Institute of Management-Aboitiz School of Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship to develop the roadmap.

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