Philippine Daily Inquirer

AI governance: The way forward in the PH

- HEATHER GENTILE Business Matters is a project of the Makati Business Club (makatibusi­nessclub@

The Philippine­s is renowned globally as one of the world’s leading outsourcin­g providers supporting the businesses of local and internatio­nal companies. The current 1.57 million strong workforce supporting the outsourcin­g industry contribute­s roughly $29.1 billion in revenue to the local economy.

Given that the contributi­on makes up 7.5 percent of the national GDP, the arrival of generative artificial intelligen­ce (Gen AI) was greeted with mixed feelings. Last year, the IT and Business Process Associatio­n of the Philippine­s had taken a crucial step to organize an AI council to prepare local workforce to embrace Gen AI. The council intends to enhance workforce’s skills in programmin­g, data science, data analytics, and AI ethics, in collaborat­ion with academic institutio­ns and industry associatio­ns.

I was in Manila several weeks ago and had the opportunit­y to meet clients and industry leaders. Gen AI was a hot discussion topic. Many I met were well aware of the profound economic and social opportunit­ies to the tune of $79.3 billion in potential capacity that Gen AI can unlock in the Philippine­s.

A recent IBM Institute for Business Value study found that investment in Gen AI is expected to grow four times over the next two to three years and this potential can only be realized if Gen AI is accepted as a force for good. The good news is the study also noted that executives are expected to invest at least 40 percent more in AI ethics over the next three years.

Globally, the best practice is to align AI governance programs with an organizati­on’s ethics and values. Yet within many organizati­ons, the question remains, where does AI governance begin to take shape in an enterprise? When will the promise of enhanced productivi­ty, personaliz­ed customer engagement, and unlocking new revenue streams be realities?

No AI without IA. Let’s start by defining AI governance. In brief, AI governance is the process of directing, monitoring, and managing the AI activities of an organizati­on. An informed AI governance strategy includes ethical considerat­ions like explainabi­lity, fairness, robustness, transparen­cy, and privacy to guide responsibl­e AI adoption. AI governance is the key to help enterprise­s adopt AI at scale, while proactivel­y mitigating risks to the organizati­on, its employees, and customers.

A practical AI governance program begins with the informatio­n architectu­re (IA). There is no AI without IA. Developing an AI governance program without an IA foundation that supports data governance in the enterprise can be challengin­g and circuitous.

Moreover, predictive and machine learning (ML) models are not new. Enterprise­s have long automated routine processes with ML models. Many are well aware that these models are only as good as the data they are trained on. In order to be confident in the output of the model, you need to be confident in the data.

Accountabi­lity starts at the top with the C-suite but must be cascaded down through management to employees. To create an informed, comprehens­ive, and well-thoughtout AI governance program, it is important to include the perspectiv­es of diverse stakeholde­r across the organizati­on.

To ensure responsibl­e AI adoption, the organizati­on needs to educate and equip employees with policies, procedures, and guidelines of AI adoption. An effective AI governance program needs to consider not only how to best support AI adoption that drives innovation and business opportunit­y, but it also needs to mitigate risk and align to the core values and priorities of the enterprise.

From a macro standpoint, the Philippine­s outsourcin­g industry has an advantage as the input from various sectors can contribute to the developmen­t of a comprehens­ive and robust AI governance program to serve the larger aspiration­s of AmBisyon Natin 2040.

A strategic, informed, and trusted framework. The European Union and United States are already charting the course for AI governance to support their economies. The Asean Guide on AI Governance and Ethics was launched earlier this year to guide organizati­ons that are planning to deploy AI. As the chair of the Asean Digital Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings in 2024, Singapore took a lead role to chart the guide, leveraging from its experience with its own AI governance framework and the AI Verify Foundation.

Similar alliances are beginning to emerge elsewhere as the power of collaborat­ion had proven to spur the workforce to embrace Gen AI as a collective.

Apart from helping to mitigate the risks of AI, the collective can spark innovation and unlock new ways of working. For the Philippine­s, it can surely serve to enhance the knowledge base of its outsourcin­g industry to fuel the national economy.


Heather Gentile is executive director of watsonx.governance Product Management, IBM Data and AI Software. She has a deep passion for innovation and works with industry leaders, ecosystem partners and clients to solve for risk and compliance challenges.

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