Using technology for good

Posted by watchmen
April 16, 2024
Posted in Better Days, OPINION


By Sonny Angara

The Philippine National Police reported a rise in cybercrime cases during the first quarter of 2024.

According to the police’s Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG), there were 4,469 cases recorded from January to March of 2024. This was an increase of almost 22 percent from the 3,668 cases over the same period in 2023.

ACG director Major General Sidney Hernia cited online selling scams, debit and credit card fraud and investment scams as the three main contributors to the increase in the number of cybercrime cases. He surmised that the increased online activity of Filipinos, as well as sophisticated cybercrime tactics and a general lack of awareness by the public could have contributed to this spike in people falling prey to cybercriminals.

If there was one good thing that came out of the COVID-19 pandemic is that people became more knowledgeable in the use of technology, particularly for e-commerce and online transactions with government offices. More people were shopping online, initially out of necessity because of the lockdowns.

Eventually, people realized that it was just more convenient and even cost-effective if we take into account the amount of time lost in traffic jams and the cost of transportation. But with this growth in the use of technology also came a corresponding increase in opportunities for criminals to target consumers, using the very tools that were supposed to make life easier for the people.

Major General Hernia himself noted that the increasing reliance on online platforms for shopping, financial transactions and even investment opportunities has created a larger pool of potential targets for cybercriminals.

While the report may seem alarming and raises a red flag against an overreliance on technology, the reality is that at its core, technology does more good than harm, especially in this digital age.

Today every major company uses technology for all aspects of their operations. It improves efficiency and raises productivity, which leads to higher growth. And the thing with technology is that it is constantly evolving and at a pace that some may find too fast for them to catch up. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) for one is something that is rapidly transforming from something that was once seen as gimmicky to a tool that is becoming indispensable for some and even a threat in numerous situations.

AI is now used in every industry because of how much data it can actually analyze and process for the specific needs of its users. In healthcare for instance, AI is now being used to diagnose diseases, arguably just as well or even better than humans can. AI is also being utilized to prescribe treatments for patients based on the data collected from diagnostics quickly.

In agriculture, the use of AI has grown substantially and has benefitted farmers who have learned to utilize it. From automated machinery to the monitoring of weather and climate changes and its impact on the growth of crops, AI has helped increase agricultural production and even the quality of produce.

Automobile manufacturers are now tapping AI to improve safety in automobiles and to eventually drive themselves, safely. In the transportation sector, AI is being used to manage traffic by learning patterns that cause delays and vehicular congestion. It is also used to detect and prevent accidents.

A more common and practical application of AI is with digital assistants. Most of us have used either Siri, Alexa or Google Home on our smart devices to ask simple queries or to control our lights, TV, air-conditioning, and even brew you a cup of coffee at home. This is particularly useful for persons with disabilities, who do not always have someone with them to provide assistance.

Recognizing the power of technology and its critical role in the development and growth of industries, we included among the “Pillars of the Tatak Pinoy Strategy” in Republic Act 11981 or the Tatak Pinoy (Proudly Filipino) Act, technology and innovation.

The law tasks the Tatak Pinoy Council to coordinate with the Department of Science and Technology, the National Innovation Council, the Philippine Space Agency, public and private higher education institutions with reputable track record in scientific and technological research, and the relevant industry groups to identify and advance strategic, market-driven, and customer-centric R&D activities and technology transfer initiatives that are critical to achieve the objectives of the law.

Technology and AI in particular will always be exploited and subject to unethical use. There is always the danger of being over-dependent on technology and becoming lax. To some people, it has become an existential threat. The challenge now, as it always has been, is to use technology and AI for good.


Senator Sonny Angara has been in public service for 19 years — 9 years as Representative of the Lone District of Aurora, and 10 as Senator. He has authored, co-authored, and sponsored more than 330 laws.  He is currently serving his second term in the Senate.


Email: | Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @sonnyangara/WDJ

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