SLASSCOM recently hosted its annual AI Asia Summit, for the second consecutive year this year at the Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo. The theme of this year’s summit was to stress the importance of formulating a proactive policy and building capacity around Artificial intelligence (AI) to leverage the ICT industry to new heights.

The AI Asia Summit 2019 was designed to challenge, motivate, and inspire all participants in the rapidly developing field of AI to further the growth of the ICT industry of the country. This year’s summit expressively provided a forum for the most recent advances in Artificial Intelligence, predominantly in emerging AI application and research whilst event featured globally as well as locally renowned expert speakers who shared their thoughts and experiences in their micro-fields within AI with regards to the growing trends of this day and age.

The panel included Dr. Chrisantha Fernando - Senior Research Scientist at Google DeepMind who spoke on ‘The Minimal Turin Test and Minimal Agency’, Dr. Romesh Ranawana - CTO at TENGRI UAV Ltd. spoke on ‘The Future of Aerial Unmanned Intelligent Systems’, Dr. Inga Strümke - Manager AI and Machine Learning at PwC Norway on ‘Responsible use of AI’, Dr. Srinath Perera - Vice President Research at WSO2 on ‘AI in the Real World, Challenges and Risks’, Samith Gunasekara - Head of AI and Machine Learning at Boeing Analytx on ‘Powerful AI Trends to Drive Digital Transformation’, Tone Therese Paulsen - Product Lead, (Nordics and Europe) at Boost.ai on ‘Beyond Bots – Conversational AI and Reinventing the use of Virtual Agents’, Dr. Rukshan Batuwita - former Lead Data Scientist at Woolworths Group Australia on ‘Getting Data Science/Machine Learning Right for Your Business’, and Dr. Rajitha Nawarathna - former imagineer at Walt Disney Imagineering, Walt Disney Company USA on ‘Reading Audience Mind Through Vision in Movies’.
The event saw an excellent turnout of over 350 participants attend the Summit this year while AI Asia Summit, held the previous year also was an extreme accomplishment for SLASSCOM with over 300 participants taking part in the event to share knowledge and network.

The Summit shed light on the background of AI systems and how they could be utilized in a responsible way. It brought to the frontlines how AI should comprise of essential security, transparency and responsible disclosures.

Speaking at the event, the Norwegian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Trine Jøranli Eskedal stated that the Norwegian Embassy has proceeded to sign a Memorandum of Understanding securing a two-year commitment to foster collaboration in the ICT industry with SLASSCOM. It is also aligned with the vision for 2025 around the future of Digital Sri Lanka which has an emphasis on IT education and harnessing future techniques. Moreover, Ambassador Eskedal highlighted the MOU hopes to strengthen bonds between Norway Sri Lanka.

“It is important for us to expand the knowledge of AI and related technologies throughout the population of Sri Lanka, as the country is progressing rapidly and it is a crucial contribution to Sri Lanka’s ambitious target of becoming a hub for knowledge and innovation. We have played a significant role specifically in terms of software development and service delivery within the country and we have contributed to the development of the ICT industry generously, although it is important to note that if we are to further its development, we are also required to concentrate on moving up the value chain to add high value and bring in more revenue to the industry,” stated Ranil Rajapakse - Chairman, SLASSCOM.

The Summit also emphasized on the involvement of industries, academia, the government and other agencies in Sri Lanka could enhance education and skill development in terms of technologies related to AI. SLASSCOM brought to light how re-skilling and re-training Sri Lanka’s existing workforce through the movement to novel concepts involving AI, as AI has the potential to develop society as a whole, while also improving public sector services, contributing to the increase of wealth creation, investments and trade growth.

SLASSCOM acts as the facilitator of growth for the Sri Lankan knowledge and innovation industry by empowering trade and business, circulating education and employment, encouraging research and innovation, and by supporting the creation of a progressive national policy framework for the knowledge solutions industry.