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ChatGPT Pero Local: DOST Plans to Roll Out Pinoy Chatbot

Photo for the Article - ChatGPT Pero Local: DOST Plans to Roll Out Pinoy Chatbot
  • DOST-ASTI Director Franz De Leon shared that the agency is planning to develop a Filipino-style ChatGPT in the immediate future. 
  • According to De Leon, once the initiative becomes successful, the DOST plans to integrate the chatbot into different government digital platforms. 
  • The chatbot to be developed also targets understanding and responding in different dialects in the country, including Taglish.

The Department of Science and Technology plans to develop a Filipino-style ChatGPT in the “immediate future.”

This is what DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) Director Franz De Leon shared when he was asked about the agency’s plans on AI usage during the 2024 budget hearing on the House Committee on Appropriations.

DOST’s Plan on Local Chatbot

According to De Leon, the chatbot that the DOST is aiming to develop should be the one that learns how to understand and respond in different languages in the country, including Taglish. 

“In the coming months or year, magde-develop naman po kami ng (we will develop a) local version ng ChatGPT, which recognizes local languages, English, Tagalog, and even a combination of both.”  

Franz De Leon, Director, DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI)

A chatbot is an AI tool that is powered by large language models (LLMs). LLMs are the reason behind these chatbots to understand natural language, generate human-like responses, and learn through time. Some of the known chatbots are ChatGPT, Google Bard, and Bing Chat. 

Read: AI Chatbot Showdown: ChatGPT vs Competitors – A Comparative Analysis for 2023

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Moreover, De Leon also stressed that once a chatbot has been developed in the country, it can be integrated into different government digital platforms: 

“Kapag naging successful, it can be integrated into any application, and then we can prosper further to different local languages po.”

Franz De Leon, Director, DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI)

Since the rise of AI chatbots and LLMs, a number of companies have started using them for customer support, business analytics, quality control, and even the tracking of shipments. 

Read: ChatGPT Transforms Business: Top Use Cases to Streamline Operations

Experts React to DOST’s Initiative

For Baguio’s Lone District Rep. Mark Go, who is also the chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education, DOST’s vision is on the right path: 

“Tama po iyon, kasi kailangan mayroon tayong large language model na itatayo ng DOST probably para doon tayo magtatanong (ang mga tao). Para masiguro po natin na ordinaryong mamamayan ay magagamit po ito.”

Mark Go, Representative, Baguio

The Solon then emphasized that to be able to monitor this initiative, his office is willing to team up with the agency and be part of the implementation in the future.

“Sana po tayo ang manguna rito, ang DOST. And I would like to propose one of these days, we will visit DOST so we can partner with the implementation of our own artificial intelligence in this country.”

Mark Go, Representative, Baguio

However, X user Richard Parayno questioned if this initiative can be performed by the DOST since developing LLMs requires advanced skills and a lot of resources: 

“Who’s gonna tell them that training a foundational model is incredibly expensive? Not to mention, we don’t have any quality datasets for local languages.”

Richard Parayno, Comment on X

This was echoed by technologist Dominic Ligot, who suggested that “most likely, they will fine-tune an existing model.” 

“To utilize ChatGPT for Filipinos, you can download and train it on a new dataset with a pre-trained model,” Mong Ramos Jr. replied. “Take note that this process may require substantial computing resources, especially if you want it to be widely accessible in the Philippines.”

DOST’s Other AI Initiatives

As per De Leon, one of the AI use cases that the DOST is currently adopting is when it comes to weather management and agriculture. 

However, he also admitted that though they are doing their best to offer tools to the public, developing AI models requires professionals and infrastructure: 

“To be honest mahal pong magdevelop ng AI technology kasi you need the people, you need the infrastructure. But with the strong support of DOST, ginagawa namin siyang mas accessible sa lahat.”

Franz De Leon, Director, DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI)

This article is published on BitPinas: ChatGPT Pero Local: DOST Plans to Roll Out Pinoy Chatbot

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