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DOST to launch ‘Filipino-style’ ChatGPT

A chatbot that recognizes various languages in the Philippines, including Taglish, is currently being developed by the Department of Science and Technology–Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI) to aid in different government functions.

According to DOST-ASTI’s director, Dr. Franz de Leon, the iTANONG project is continuously achieving “milestones” since the agency began the project in 2022.
“Our primary goal with the iTANONG project is to bridge the communication gap between users and organization’s databases, making vital information more accessible to end-users, especially those who may not be technically proficient in computer programming,” the director said.

Despite the success in creating a functional natural language interface, De Leon said that there is still “vast room” for further development.

De Leon said that they are still planning on creating a mobile version of the web application and expanding to other languages such as Bikol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, and Ilokano.

The department is also “exploring” the possibility of a speech-based interface in addition to the text-based version.

The exact launch for the application is yet to be determined as the department is still on its second year of developing the app.

While the department is initially focused on functions related to government activities and public services, the director said that it is open to collaborate with private institutions that can “benefit” from its technology. 

The DOST-ASTI is also engaged in other AI-related projects that would concern weather forecasts, education, health, agriculture, and disaster risk management, saying that its commitment to AI research and development is “strong.”

“Currently, we’re also implementing Project ALaM (AI and computer vision for satellite images), ROAMER (robotics), FLASH (AI for weather forecasting), Gul.AI (AI and Data Analytics for education and agriculture), and more,” De Leon said.

With the gradual integration of AI in today’s society, the DOST-ASTI director revealed that the department is aiming to foster AI technology literacy among Filipinos through this project

“The iTANONG and these AI projects represent a significant step toward democratizing access to AI technology and making it more accessible to more Filipinos, especially those who are in the lower part of the digital divide,” the DOST-ASTI director said.