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Microsoft set to train 100k Filipinas on AI, cybersecurity

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Tech giant Microsoft said Tuesday it will train 100,000 Philippine women on artificial intelligence technology and cybersecurity.

The programme was announced during a two-day trade mission headed by US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

Trade Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba said the training could “help to bolster cybersecurity and trust in tech adoption”.

The joint initiative could help address the Philippines’s problem with disinformation, Microsoft official Mary Snapp said.

The Filipino women will use an online platform to learn how to use Microsoft’s AI tools, including ones powered by OpenAI’s large language models, to gain workplace skills and to be able to recognise cybersecurity threats.

“We are very excited about the potential for the Philippines to drive economic advancement using enhanced AI technology in a positive way,” Snapp told a news conference.

Microsoft will partner with government agencies and local schools to provide the training to government employees, said Snapp.

Meanwhile, Speaker Martin Romualdez on Tuesday lauded the announcement of over $1 billion in investments from high-level US trade andinvestment mission firms, including Microsoft, as a significant vote of confidence in the Philippine economy.

The investment windfall includes groundbreaking ventures in energy,digital upskilling, and education, showcasing the strong economic ties and mutual trust between the United States and the Philippines.

“This unparalleled commitment from American firms is not just a vote of confidence in the Philippine economy, but also a clear reflection of the strategic and dynamic leadership of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.,” Romualdez said.

“Under the President’s guidance, the Philippines has embarked on a series of diplomatic and business-oriented initiatives, including his strategic foreign trips and the introduction of the Maharlika Investment Fund, aimed at attracting global investors and cementing our nation’s status as a prime investment destination,” he added.

“There’s going to be a really strong focus and education campaign so that people who are looking at content are much better able to identify what’s been changed, what’s not been changed,” Snapp said.

The tech giant said it would also roll out an AI-powered reading progress tool for around 27 million Philippine students, in partnership with the Philippine education department.

A 2022 World Bank study revealed that nine out of every 10 students aged 10 in the Philippines struggle to read simple texts.

In another development, Philippine garment exporters who are are reeling from the unresolved case of detained apparel shipments in the US have sought government aid to resolve the dilemma.

The Board of Investments (BOI) said garment exporters are losing much since the US Custom Border Protection refused to release the shipments, apparently due to initial findings that the shipped apparels might have utilized cotton coming form Uyghur, China.

“The shipments are equipped with the documents stating that no particular materials used in the manufacture of apparels has ever used Chinese cotton, specifically the kind sourced from the controversial Uyghur in the Xinjiang region,” BOI officials clarified at the sidelines of the US Trade and Investment Mission (PITM) at the Fairmont Hotel Tuesday.

“What we are saying is that since we have the necessary papers and the shipments have full traceability, we think that the US can act on this quickly. Our exporters are losing, as we speak,” he added.

The Customs Border Protection agency detained the apparel shipments, apparently of Ralph Lauren brand, in view of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act of the US.

The federal law states that goods with content coming from Uyghur, China are not welcome in the US for ethical reasons. Uyghur is said to be notorious for using forced labor in producing agricultural goods such as cotton.

The BOI has managed to obtain support from a US official that the issue will be resolved immediately.

The Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines is collaborating with the US Embassy to help affected exporters. With Maricel Cruz and Othel Campos

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