AI killing jobs? Philippines can be global hub, says tech startup

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 01 2018 08:26 AM | Updated as of Mar 01 2018 05:08 PM

MANILA - A Silicon Valley-based startup said it would hire Filipino data scientists and software engineers, seeking to make the country a global hub for artificial intelligence.

Contrary to fears in the outsourcing industry, AI is a "job creator, not a job replacer," said Derek Meyer, CEO of machine learning solutions provider Wave Computing.

"We think this is a great opportunity to create the jobs here. We’re not trying to export talent outside the Philippines, we’re trying to harness the skill sets that are here," Meyer said Wednesday.

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Wave Computing will initially hire 20 personnel for its Philippine office, he said.

There are 2 billion computers running 20 billion programs worldwide and this requires 12,000 to 20,000 data scientists to run them, Meyer said.

"That’s a real challenge and this is an area where we see a lot of growth opportunity in job creation in the space of data science," he said.

Machine learning opportunities are present across industries including retail, financial services and manufacturing, he said.

Wave Computing is working with local universities to enhance their AI programs and produce highly-skilled graduates, he said.

Socioeconomic Planning Sec. Ernesto Pernia in January urged the BPO industry to upgrade its workers' skills, saying growth in the sector was slowing as companies look increasingly towards artificial intelligence.

According to the IT and Business Process Outsourcing Association of the Philippines' road map, 43,000 low-skilled workers could lose their jobs, from 2016 to 2022 but at the same time, there will be openings for 697,000 middle to high-skilled jobs.