AI and the future

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IMAGINE a world where cars move without human drivers, taxis fly in the air, and call centers are manned by robots. In the previous century, those scenarios evoked science fiction and a utopian version of the future.

But that future is now. The convergence of technology, business, and culture in the third millennium has given rise to an era dominated by the internet and social media.

Self-driving vehicles will be allowed on California roads starting mid-2018, while test flights are being conducted in Dubai for the world’s first drone cab service. Siri has been around for some time as a virtual assistant of iOS phone users, taking commands ranging from the opening of front-facing cameras to the booking of hotel rooms.

One of the Philippine economy’s main pillars, the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, would be affected negatively by the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. Studies have shown that many of the BPOs’ functions could be done more efficiently by robots and at a lower cost.

What will happen to Filipinos working in the call center industry? Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of jobs, may be displaced when AI replaces people in these labor-intensive enterprises.

A global think tank projects that more than 90 percent of jobs in the Philippines have to be transformed over the next three years. Call center agents and other soon-to-be displaced employees need to be re-tooled so they could find new roles in the workforce.

The job market, as we know it, will no longer be the same in the near-term. It’s time for the private and public sectors to join hands in the digital transformation of our country.

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