THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Wednesday that the government is creating a task force to formulate an Artificial Intelligence (AI) road map to help industry respond to technological disruption.

“We’re trying to form a task force,” Undersecretary Rafaelita M. Aldaba of the DTI Competitiveness and Innovation Group (CIG) said in an economic briefing at the Palace on Wednesday.

She said the task force is expected to draft the government’s strategy for dealing with the rise of automation and artificial intelligence, which has been called the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0.

“This is really going to affect many industries. And so we need to engage with these industries, as well as with other government agencies like DoST (Department of Science and Technology), with TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) and CHEd (Commission on Higher Education), DepEd (Department of Education), NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority), and DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology),” she said.

Asked when the task force will be constituted, she said: “I hope next month, in August. Kasi marami na kaming mga discussions, marami na ring nag-signify in terms of participating actively in the task force (we’ve had many discussions, and many parties have signified their interest in participating). So I hope by August, we’ll be able to present to you the plans.”

She also noted that strategies are needed to address the disruptive effects of the new technology because a lack of preparedness “could lead to job losses if we don’t properly implement a good strategy.”

She cited a McKinsey study that found that 48% of activities — equivalent to 18.2 million jobs — can be automated. “And mostly, it’s going to affect agriculture with 6 million jobs being lost due to automation; retail, 3.4 million jobs; manufacturing, 2.4 million jobs,” she said.

Only “a very few” industries in the Philippines are future-ready, she noted.

“But there are also some that are shifting, but mostly [they are in] Industry 3.0. And there are some that are still in Industry 2.0, while agriculture, sad to say, is still in the mechanization phase,” she added.

The first three industrial revolutions involve the harnessing of steam energy to mechanize factories; the creation of mass markets and mass production; and computer-driven gains in productivity.

She said Industry 4.0 in the Philippines “is still in its infancy, and that’s the reason why we want to move up, we want to be able to accelerate this process kasi hindi tayo hihintayin ng mundo kaya kailangan nakahanda tayo (the world will not wait for us so we need to be ready) because investors are already looking for new areas to invest in.”

“I hope in three to four years time, we’ll be able to really say na pasok na tayo (we have entered Industry 4.0),” she said. — Arjay L. Balinbin