AI governance: The way forward in the PH | Inquirer Opinion
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AI governance: The way forward in the PH


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-thought-out 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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