M.A.P. Flags malnutrition’s threat to digital-age labor


THE Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) has underscored the need to address malnutrition and child stunting, saying the workforce in the decades ahead will be in a “tech-driven” environment given the Digital Age and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

“We cannot afford to have a major segment of our abundant workforce ill-equipped to meet the demands of the future AI-driven economy, by having lower mental capacities due to impaired brain development stemming from stunting at an early stage,” former National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) chief Cielito Habito said during MAP’s recent multisectoral meeting with various stakeholders to operationalize the MAP “Campaign Against Malnutrition and Child Stunting” (CAMACS). Habito is Governor-in-Charge of the MAP Cluster on Resilience and Recovery.

For her part, MAP President Benedicta Du-Baladad stressed in the same meeting that, “Child stunting affects cognitive development, and this can later on have an impact on their capacity to be productive, resulting in lower economic output and poorer quality of life.”

Du-Baladad emphasized this becomes a “major impediment to competitiveness and national development.”

Meanwhile, United Kingdom-based think tank Oxford Economics said last week that Artificial Intelligence has the potential to fix the world’s productivity problems, “just as previous general purpose technologies such as steam power, electricity, and computers have, in our view.”

As to the jobs it will create, Oxford Economics said, “AI will displace jobs while creating new ones.” However, it noted, “A big question is whether the jobs that are displaced will be those that mainly involve routine work, such as in manufacturing.”

“For jobs where human contact is essential, AI may be more of a tool than a threat,” the UK-based think tank said.