Risa Hontiveros urges DTI to protect BPO sector against possible AI takeover
MANILA, Philippines — With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday called upon the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to protect the business process outsourcing (BPO) workers who may be replaced with automated chatbots.
Hontiveros cited research from United States technology research firm Gartner Inc., which claimed that call centers can save up to $80 billion should AIs replace human laborers.
“Is the BPO industry in trouble too? Does Sec. Pascual, being at the helm of the DTI, have a plan for when more companies invest in AI instead of workers? Malaki ang magiging epekto nito sa ating BPO industry, sa ating ekonomiya, kaya dapat ngayon pa lang handa na ang ahensya sa posibilidad na ito,” said Hontiveros in a statement.
(Is the BPO industry in trouble too? Does Sec. Pascual, being at the helm of the DTI, have a plan for when more companies invest in AI instead of workers. There will be a large impact on the BPO industry to our economy, so as early as now, this agency should be ready for this possibility).
According to Hontiveros, the BPO industry in the country earns an annual $30 billion, which is the same as what overseas Filipino workers continue to the economy.
“If this industry gets into trouble, then dollars become scarce, they become more expensive, and the peso devalues. A pathway to entry into the middle class will also disappear,” Hontiveros said.
However, Hontiveros acknowledged that the Philippines’ current learning systems “are not yet agile enough for our industries to stay ahead of the AI curve.”
The senator then suggested that there should be more avenues of learning and training to allow workers to evolve with AI.
“Maybe work places themselves should now be the schools, or should at least be supported in defining a continuing education pathway for workers. In that way, workers will always know what sets of skills will enable them to work alongside these intelligent machines instead of being replaced by them,” she said.