BPO industry should not fear AI, says Acer executive

Cathy Yang, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 08 2018 08:43 PM

MANILA - The next "killer app" in artificial intelligence may be developed in Philippines thanks to its booming business process outsourcing industry, an executive of Taiwanese tech giant Acer said on Thursday. 

Maverick Shih, president of Acer Cloud Technology BYOC Smart Products said the Philippines' BPO industry may produce startups that could take advantage of the latest developments in data science and artificial intelligence. 

Shih, who was at the Asian Institute of Management today to formally hand over an Acer supercomputer to the school, said people in the BPO industry should not fear AI. 

"Today a lot of people think that AI might replace other people's jobs. I would say yes if you keep doing the same thing," Shih said in an exclusive interview with ANC's The Boss.

Maverick Shih, president of Acer Cloud Technology BYOC Smart Products talks to ANC's Cathy Yang

He advised people in the BPO business to instead upgrade their skills to take advantage of the opportunities presented by data science and AI. 

Shih recalled the movie "Hidden Figures" about a group of black female mathematicians in the 60s who worked in NASA's space program. 

In the movie, one of the female mathematicians knew that they would be replaced by an IBM computer. 

"But in that movie, which I am admiring, instead of being replaced, they learned how to master," Shih said, narrating how the lead characters studied how to program in Fortran so they could work with the IBM computer. 

Acer has donated a supercomputer with the computing and storage power of 250 high-end laptops, to the Asian Institute of Management's ACCeSs Labs. 

The Asian Institute of Management's ACCeSs Labs will use the supercomputer donated by Acer for data science and artificial intelligence research.

The Taiwanese tech firm says the supercomputer will help develop data scientists.

Shih said that with data, data scientists and a supercomputer, new applications could be developed that would optimize business. 

"The thing that is very costly to do will become very easy and much more efficient," Shih said. 

He added that Manila could rival Shenzhen in China which produced Huawei, and Hsinchu in Taiwan which produced TSMC, in becoming the next Silicon Valleys in Asia where the next killer apps in AI, big data and the cloud may be discovered. 

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