‘Tech promises to be the great equalizer, and yet why does it continue perpetuating ingrained social inequalities?’


Copyright: rappler.com – “[OPINION] Why high tech needs a humanist approach”


AI, Big Data, and other high tech are currently being adopted at a staggering pace. For example, the global AI software market is evaluated at $62.35 billion as of Q4 2020, with an expected compound annual growth rate of 40.2% from 2021 to 2028. Few industries experience this much growth in such a relatively short period of time.

One thing to note is that advanced software isn’t self-generating, or at least not yet: at present, it requires humans to design, create, and implement these tech tools.

Many universities and higher learning institutions, in both developed and developing countries, are seeking to take advantage of this by offering related academic courses.

In the Philippines, for example, the College of Engineering of the top-rated University of the Philippines has taken this initiative, with its recently announced its Master of Engineering in AI. The Asian Institute of Management has pioneered a Masters in Data Science in the Philippines, with other top universities like Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, and the University of Sto. Tomas following suit with their respective undergraduate and graduate degree and training programs.

Some people would argue that in order for Filipinos to be competitive in the international tech labor arena, we must use these programs to spur our students’ technical capacities to the fullest. The proposals on how to do so vary, but generally it means more hands-on training and less time in the university setting, with decreased required coursework on non-tech related subjects. This usually translates to the removal of social sciences and humanities from tech-oriented core academic curricula.

I respectfully disagree with these initiatives.

My perspective comes from my work with international organizations, including the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, and the Asian Development Bank, on initiatives to encourage adoption of current and emerging tech to improve local community development. At present, I work with ALPHA10X, which utilizes cutting-edge AI technology with the goal of improving strategic investment and innovation to boost efficiency in the global life sciences industry.

In all these tech-related projects I’ve worked on, my background in psychology, law, and economics have helped provide a holistic perspective and generate insights on how these tech can make the most positive social impact on its target users. For NGOs, this translates to greater and more sustainable community development; for private businesses, this means greater commercial success.[…]

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