ARTIFICIAL intelligence (AI) to be included on the Philippine government’s research and development agenda for 2017-2022?
Yes. Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña made the announcement during the recent National Research and Development (R&D) Conference. The National R&D Conference is a prologue to the crafting of a Harmonized National R&D Agenda for science and technology, which intends to unify all R&D projects and initiatives in line with the Philippine Development Plan called “Ambisyon Natin 2040.”
“Now, we would like to pursue new areas, not necessarily new in the global sense but as far as local research and development is concerned, and that is in the field of artificial intelligence and space technology,” de la Peña said.
He said that in the 1980s, he wrote a scientific article on the future of technology where AI has been prominently described as the next wave of technological development in the global technological space.
However, the former UP professor said the government then had to focus more on other priority areas of development.
Deputy Executive Director Raul C. Sabularse of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development confirmed the planned initiatives on AI. Sabularse said the DOST is in talks with other R&D institutions to develop a program on AI consisting of various project components.
“We are in the process of consulting experts and stakeholders to form a development program on artificial intelligence. This is something not totally new but it is a promising field for our researchers with applications in the industry,” Sabularse said.
He added that Filipino technology giant Dado Banatao is also involved in the talks, but said details are still under way and may be included on the national R&D agenda for 2017.
AI is intelligence exhibited by machines that have the capability to perceive their environment and take the necessary actions to a given situation and carry out a positive outcome. It is simply understood as machines capable of mimicking human cognitive functions in doing simple to complex tasks.
The AI technology has a wide range of use—including medical diagnosis, stock trading, robot control, law, remote sensing, scientific discovery and toy making. Currently, some applications are no longer labeled as AI.
Sabularse said the DOST initially plans to use AI for manufacturing industries to optimize mass production of goods in the country. De la Peña said the harmonized R&D agenda would choose research initiatives that are in line with the DOST’s 11 research agenda—namely, for pressing problems; productivity; tap and manage resource potentials; application of new technologies across sectors; climate change and disaster risk reduction, technology transfer and commercialization; assistance to production sector; upgrading and improvement of S&T services; human-resource development for S&T; capability building and involvement of regional R&D institutions; and industry and academe collaborations.
The DOST, through Executive Order 128 of 1987, is the sole government office mandated to direct all scientific R&D activities with potential benefits to the socioeconomic development of its people.
It is also mandated, through Section 19, Article 9 of Republic Act 10055, that the “DOST shall call for regular national conference of government funding agencies and research and development institutes in order to promote multidisciplinary, joint and cross collaboration in R&D; coordinate and rationalize the R&D agenda; and harmonize all R&D agenda and priorities.”