Google PH Introduces AI Skills Development Course Amidst Public Debate on Technological Advancement

By: Sophia Pacheco
September 28, 2023

Google Philippines creates a course for AI skill development. Photo courtesy of Life at Google.

Google Philippines' head of government affairs and public policy, Yves Gonzales, announced the launching of Google Cloud’s online Artificial Intelligence (AI) development course for all Filipinos making it more accessible and boosting the introduction of AI and machine learning education in the country, last Wednesday, Sept. 27.

“The good news is [that] this is free. Anyone can access this anytime, anywhere, at no cost. The courses feature a wide array of topics, including the difference between generative AI and other types of AI, responsible AI and machine learning, and much more,” Gonzalez said.

He also added the said program “provides access to AI experts, training and networking opportunities”.

Google PH further develops three additional courses namely business intelligence, advanced data analytics and cyber security along with the AI course to its Google Career Certificates program this year.

Said certificates are considered professional credentials which would “help enable people from all backgrounds to earn job-ready skills in high-growth digital fields such as information technology support, user experience design, e-commerce and digital marketing”.

AI Sparks Debate

Prior to Google PH’s AI program, the human intelligence simulation has manifested its work in education, especially the media landscape of the country.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 99 which began on Sunday, Sept. 24, debuted GMA Integrated News’ AI sportscasters, Maia and Marco which drew flak among audiences as well as netizens online.

Aileen Rae Perez, the head of social media for the network's current affairs, urged viewers, particularly the traditional media, to learn from and adapt to the innovators who are better at using AI and technology to further their agendas.

“Our goal is to develop a better way of delivering information to the evolving preferences of our audience. Instead of seeing creativity and innovation as a threat, we hope that this initiative will start a healthy discourse on how generative AI could help news organizations improve the way we do modern journalism,” Perez said.

The action caused a stir online and has drawn condemnation on social media. Concerns over AI technology and the media industry's discussion on the future of journalism have been widely discussed.

An e-sports broadcaster, Mr. Paolo Barcelon, expressed his displeasure and emphasized that AI avatars "cannot entirely capture the mood, emotion, feeling, and excitement of the game."

Other social media users who preferred to remain anonymous also voiced their conflict with the AI technology's formalization and its intended application in the Philippines.

"It's quite odd if we're going to see more AI than real news anchors. We can adapt and incorporate today's technology to make things better but to depend on it solely and disregarding the talents and skills of actual people don't sound good to me. We're creating machines and apps where it imitates the function of humankind. Sounds kinda lame for me,” a YouTube user commented.

"GMA, it's not too late to shelve this misguided attempt at using AI. This does not add anything to sports journalism. It really feels like a gimmick, and one that belittles the talent of so many sports journalists who are ready and willing to work with you," a user commented on platform X, formerly twitter.

The Google AI learning course will continue to be offered to boost technological advancement in the Philippines as the company stays true to its stating “For so many Filipinos, it (AI) has been a life-changing initiative.”

“Google is a committed partner of the country in helping build a Digital Philippines. Through our technology, skilling programs and partnerships, we will continue to help unleash the potential of the digital economy and empower the workforce of the future,” Google Philippines country director Bernadette Nacario said.