In AI tools use, PHL must ensure fair access


MANILA should come up with policies that ensure equitable access to technology and digital learning resources for all students in its bid to utilize Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, according to an official of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

During the 10th Asian Development Bank (ADB) International Skills Forum held in Ortigas on Tuesday, DTI Undersecretary for Competitiveness and Innovation Group Rafaelita M. Aldaba unveiled the challenges that hound the Philippines as it aims to keep pace with the evolution of Artificial Intelligence.

The Trade official pointed to a “divide” in the country in terms of access to technology and the internet.

“Not all students have equal access to technology and the internet. Some lack the necessary devices or internet connectivity, creating disparities in their ability to benefit from AI-powered educational resources,” Aldaba said at the forum.

Aldaba recounted the events during the pandemic, when children would have difficulty obtaining signals in their phones just to download the materials that they need for online classes.

On the issue of equity, the Trade official said AI should be used to “bridge educational disparities, not exacerbate them.” She noted that AI tools should be made accessible and beneficial to all students, including those with disabilities.

Apart from addressing issues on equity, Aldaba also highlighted the need to develop and enforce ethical guidelines for the usage of AI.

“In education, [it’s] emphasizing fairness, transparency, accountability, and responsible data-handling,” she said.

In research ethics, Aldaba underscored the need to address “considerations” in educational research involving AI and ensuring that participants’ rights and well-being are protected.

As for utilizing AI in education, the Trade official said while this tool “holds the promise” of personalized learning and improved outcomes, it must be implemented responsibly with careful consideration of the digital divides, ethical issues and appropriate policies that would safeguard students and educators.

Meanwhile, Aldaba revealed that a skills divide is another issue in the country which should be addressed, noting that “Students and educators may have varying levels of digital literacy and proficiency which would affect their ability to effectively use AI tools.”

To address these issues, Aldaba underscored the need for the government to craft a “comprehensive plan and a lot of collaboration between and among government, academia, industry, and other stakeholders.”

While there are challenges hounding the country in terms of utilizing AI, Aldaba said that based on the calculations of EDBI and Kearney for the Philippines, if successfully implemented, AI could result in a US$92-billion contribution to the country’s economy, which translates to around 12 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).