by Mia Mikic

Digital transformation is happening in every sector and every economy, but at a very different pace and not taking the same path.  We assume they will converge taking part in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), build smart economies and a better future for all.

4IR is defined by advances in frontier technologies (such as AI, robotics, 3D printing, IoT, big data). These technologies offer a multitude of opportunities. In the economic area they are expected to bring higher and more of growth, productivity, innovation and job creation.  In terms of social impact, 4IR could transform public services delivery, reduce inequality and support inclusion. It may prove to be the last hope for the environment by offering evidence-based, real-time and pre-emptive solutions for ecological problems.  

However, there are challenges which may well slow down or divert societies to partake in 4IR. These challenges come in a form of digital divide, uncertainties about future jobs and work, ethical issues including security considerations.

To overcome these challenges, we need responsible policies in the following areas: ensuring inclusive ICT infrastructure; developing “fit-for-future” workforce; developing innovative regulatory frameworks; incentivizing responsible development of frontier technologies in the private sector; identifying the role; and encouraging multi-stakeholder dialogue, regional and multilateral cooperation.

One activity which is already undergoing wide-spread changes under 4IR is international trade. In addition to ordinary trade in goods and services, trade increasingly covers transmission of knowledge, and ideas in many different forms of data flows. International trade of future will be different not only because of how technology will change production but even more so due to consumption changes as consumers move from goods and services to experiences; from ownership to access and from anonymous to tailored and personalized demand. To enable solid digital environment for trade, a dramatic change in regulatory frameworks would be most likely needed sooner rather than later. 

by Eufemio Rasco Jr.

Agriculture is the single most important technological change in history. It is responsible for creating civilization as we know this today. Among its major impacts is on human nutrition and environment. Since the industrial revolution and subsequent green revolution, however, agriculture has become decoupled with environmental care, and worse, even with human nutrition. Food systems resulting from industrial ("modern") agriculture gave rise to what is now referred to as the Western diet, which is linked to global epidemics of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and other chronic diseases. "Modern" agricultural practices are also blamed for resource depletion, pollution, and climate change.

In this presentation I will describe how "modern" agriculture and food systems have evolved, what is wrong with them, and the technological trajectories and societal changes needed/now evolving to ensure that agriculture will not only be good for farmers and businessmen, but also for the consumer and the environment.

by Shin-Horng Chen

In recent years, many countries have embarked on economic transformation, especially by harnessing new digital technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). On the one hand, those new digital technologies are presumably related to Asia’s existing strengths of the ICT industry. One the other hand, they are an important part of the digital economy, which is taking shape in many countries, with escalating extent and significance. However, the digital economy is not just about the so-called “digital sector”, the evolving ICT sector producing foundational digital goods and services.

IoT applications have been around for a while, but they are still evolving and at the “fuzzy front-end” stage. Many countries have jumped on the bandwagon to promote their own IoT applications, especially in conjunction with the theme of the digital economy and smart city. More importantly, innovations in IoT have much to do application. Compared to IoT applications inside the firm (for example Industry 4.0), IoT applications at social spheres seem to present more challenges, which are related to the aspects of behavior and social interfaces of the broadly-defined customer space.

As a result, for the innovators and policy makers involved, they need to address the social interfaces involved in an appropriate manner. In many cases, they also need compound innovations, especially in conjunction with business models; not just technological innovations alone. Therefore, the innovators and policy makers have to change the way in which they innovate and interact with the changing innovation ecosystem.

by Joel Cuello


The Philippines, based on the most recent 2015-2016 data published by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), produces annually approximately 120,000 graduates in science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics. What is clear is that there is currently no established Science and Technology (S&T) innovation ecosystem in place in the Philippines to gainfully employ the majority of these S&T graduates, perpetuating what has become a massive imbalance between the country’s growing S&T supply side and a persistently underdeveloped domestic S&T demand side. Certainly, the sustained development of the country’s S&T supply side is necessary in terms of improving science education, increasing the number science graduates, developing targeted R&D capacity, and cultivating innovation readiness. Developing the country’s S&T demand side, however, is urgently and critically imperative – and requires and is tantamount to building the country’s S&T innovation ecosystem, which entails incentivizing globally-linked S&T companies to conduct not only manufacturing but also R&D functions in the country, incentivizing the same companies to collaborate with local R&D institutions and research universities, linking the same companies with local supply and value-chain partners, attracting S&T foreign direct investments, linkages with the global market, etc. The Cuello-Rostow Stages of Economic Development – which consist of: (1) Agriculture + Mining (preconditions for take-off); (2) Manufacturing (take-off); (3) Manufacturing + R&D (drive to innovation); and (4) High-Tech Innovation/Knowledge-Based Value Creation (drive to sustained growth) – have been charting the upward development trajectory of each of the Philippines’ neighbors, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and now even Vietnam. It is simply obligatory that the Philippines transition into the next development stage of “Manufacturing + R&D” to have the country in turn prepare and position itself for the next higher development stage of “High-Tech Innovation/Knowledge-Based Value Creation.” It is also the successful transitioning of the Philippines into Stage 3 of “Manufacturing + R&D” that will robustly equip the country for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. To make this happen, a concerted, deepened and strategic intragovernment cooperation is an absolute imperative among the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Board of Investments (BOI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). The proactive cooperation of the country’s research institutions and universities is also indispensably paramount.

by David Hall

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has come about primarily because of the convergence of technology; the increasingly rapid pace of technology development and upgrading; and the falling cost of sophisticated technologies. This continually steepening curve of technology evolution demands new and different workforce skills, changing and updating more rapidly than ever before. Conventional models of higher education will increasingly struggle to deliver the workforce necessary to keep up with FIRe and to maintain or increase Philippine competitiveness.

This paper explains some of the challenges and some of the solutions, primarily in higher education, drawing on experience in other countries. Examples are drawn from the US, the UK but also, most crucially as a regional competitor, from Malaysia. These examples demonstrate the pressing need to continually improve interaction between industry and universities in the Philippines and to seriously consider the urgent remodeling of traditional approaches to higher education. Given the current rankings of Philippine universities in the region it is clear that a step change in approach is required if FIRe is not to result an ever-widening gap, with the inevitable detrimental knock-on effects to the national economy.

by Joel Joseph Marciano Jr.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe) features the ascendancy of so-called Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), where connectivity and computational elements become tightly integrated with physical infrastructure and the built environment. These systems take advantage of advancements in sensing, communications and computational capacity to generate data that is used for closed-loop feedback, which, in turn, effectuate enhanced performance in terms of accuracy, throughput, reliability and resilience. Embedded computers, ubiquitous connectivity and storage are enabling pathways for rapidly increasing data creation and for these data to be fused and processed into actionable information. With the growth of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), these computational aspects of converting data into information is expected to become more efficient, adaptive and timely. In this talk, we describe the science infrastructure of the Advanced Science and Technology Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-ASTI) for data creation, storage, computation and connectivity in support of local scientific R&D that enables the FIRe and the thrust for a data-driven society.

by Jose Ramon Albert and Ramonette Serafica

New and emerging technologies across the world that are already being adopted by Philippine industries, albeit in varying degrees of diffusion, coupled with the interplay of various fields are powering up the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe) and its radical consequences. While opportunities are being created to increase wealth and prosperity, as well as to improve various aspects of daily living including food, nutrition and health, the disruptions the FIRe brings may also present risks of heightened gaps across society, especially between those who can adapt to the revolution, and those who cannot. Government’s role in the innovation ecosystem is extremely critical. Government should be like a gardener preparing the ground, i.e., working with the private sector to improve human capacities for the labor market and increase systematically the science and technology (S&T) workforce. Further, government should be watering the ground and nurturing the soil, i.e., increasing support for S&T, but considering also absorptive capacities of R&D institutions. Finally, government also needs to remove pests and weeds, i.e., adapting its policies and regulatory environment in the wake of the impending revolutionary changes to be brought about by the FIRe. A critical but challenging task of government is to reduce regulatory barriers to innovation and burdens to doing business, improve regulatory quality, and utilize adaptive regulatory frameworks including regulatory sandboxes to ultimately ensure that no Filipino will be left behind in enjoying the benefits of the FIRe.  

by Markus Ruck

The world of work is undergoing major changes. Digitalization and automation have facilitated the emergence of new forms of employment, such as work on digital platforms, and have led in some countries to an increase in on-call employment or other forms of temporary and part-time employment, as well as dependent self-employment and temporary agency work, often referred to as non-standard forms of employment.

While such forms of employment may provide greater flexibility to enterprises, for workers they often translate into lower and volatile earnings and higher levels of income insecurity, inadequate or unregulated working conditions, and no or limited social security entitlements. Such new forms of employment are not limited to high income countries. In many middle-income countries a growing class of unprotected workers in new forms of employment now co-exists with a large number of workers engaged in traditional forms of work such as subsistence agriculture.

Changing work and employment relationships, alongside weakening labour market institutions, have contributed to growing levels of inequality and insecurity in many parts of the world and to weakening the implicit social contract in many societies. Growing precarization calls for greater attention to employment, wage and social protection policies to ensure that the fruits of economic growth are shared on a more equitable basis  In this context, social protection and its potential to reduce and prevent poverty as well as to address inequality remain as relevant as ever (SDG targets 1.3, 5.4 and 10.4).

Various policy options are being discussed on how social protection systems can adapt to the changing nature of work and close social protection gaps.

by Emmanuel Esguerra

Two labor market-related phenomena widely discussed in connection with digitalization are the substitution of computer-enabled processes for labor in some industries, and the growth of various non-standard forms of employment in the so-called gig economy. By way of contributing to the ongoing conversation about the FIRe, we look at what the related literature has to say about the effect of technology on jobs and make a number of observations in light of the current structure of Philippine employment. We also comment on the gig economy in the broader context of heightened employment and income uncertainty associated with contingent employment.

by Kostas Mavromaras

The paper discusses the development of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the importance of automation and artificial intelligence for the future of employment and jobs. Although technological change has been happening for centuries, there are some unique aspects in the present changes and the surrounding circumstances, such as speed, uncertainty and globalization. The paper highlights the measurement issues that are currently debated in the literature, then goes on to present the trade off between the positive impact of productivity increases and the negative impact of lost jobs and unemployment and discusses how this depends on the stage of economic development a country is in. Mobility of capital, labour and goods as a result of technological change in a diverse international environment is discussed. The potential of education and training in reducing the level of displacement is examined and the concept of a basic universal income is introduced, as a means of ameliorating the negative impacts of displacement on those who do not manage to find a new job. The diversity of the Asia-Pacific region is introduced and the concepts presented are brought together to inform our expectations for future economic and social policy trends in the region.


Page 1 of 2