Rain, not a very good friend to many of us these days, desperate times calls for desperate measures they say. We braved through the rains and made our way towards the Virtusa Auditorium at Auditorium. This was where SLAAI or Sri Lanka Association for Artificial Intelligence brought together in partnership with Virtusa, held the first AI Meetup in Sri Lanka last Friday, the 13th.

Dr. Ajith Madurapperuma
Dr. Ajith Madurapperuma
Photo Courtesy: Dinitha Bandara

It was Dr. Ajith Madurapperuma the President – SLAAI who opened the meetup by welcoming the gathering. He gave us a brief introduction about SLAAI and how the AI Meetup came to life. His speech was a great opener as he gave a good introduction to Artificial Intelligence and where we are in this vast subject.

“What would you do if an enormous humanoid starts chasing you, what would be your reaction?” – Dr. Ajith Madurapperuma

He then moved to ask us whether robots have laws? Yes they do, they are called Asimov’s three laws. He then highlighted the recent encounter where a Google’s self-driving car got pulled over for driving too slow. The question of the day was, are we ready for this sort of technology or is it way too futuristic to many of us?

Next up was Mr. Chamindra De Silva, Senior Director & Head of Strategic Initiatives at Virtusa along with his team. He discussed how AI has evolved throughout the years. Remember those three laws for robots? Chamindra shared this video during his presentation that explains them:

“The combination of human and computer is going to bring out the best of AI” – Mr. Chamindra De Silva

Moving on, he introduced an AI application they use at Virtusa. Their ‘AI Bot’ helps their developers increase the quality of the software they write by optimizing the code for these software. It is also capable of answering questions developers have regarding errors they have made while providing possible solutions via the ‘Virtusa Code Quality Dashboard’. If the bot can’t answer the question, it redirects the question to an operator; which will be a BPO agent or a subject matter expert. At theses points, the AI bot would learn from the interactions with the user and operator and expand its knowledge every single time.

Mr. Chamindra De Silva Photo Courtesy: Dinitha Bandara
Mr. Chamindra De Silva
Photo Courtesy: Dinitha Bandara

We had Chamindra’s team explaining each and every aspect and section of the AI bot along with a Demo. The bot is based on an AIML engine and an AI neural network, and uses Program O as its AIML interpreter.

Dr. Upali Kohomban, the Head of Research at CodeGen was the next speaker for the evening. Dr. Upali started off by showing us how CodeGen uses AI related technologies in their projects. He showcased the ‘Savaree’ platform, a smart natural language processing search mechanism developed by CodeGen. It is capable of answering descriptive questions that are submitted by users. It is even smart enough to say why a suggested tour is best suited for an individual.

Dr. Upali Kohomban Photo Courtesy: Dinitha Bandara
Dr. Upali Kohomban
Photo Courtesy: Dinitha Bandara

Dr. Upali then introduced us to another CodeGen AI project called Review Spotter. This is an automated system that reads reviews and understands whether a person is saying something good or bad about a product or service. Today reviews play a major role in human decision making. As such, Review Spotter would be a powerful tool for any business in this connected age.

With that, Dr. Harsha Subasinghe, the CEO, CodeGen took the stage. He shared some inspiring thoughts on why AI is important. He then moved onto speak about how CodeGen seeks innovation, the best example being the VEGA project; the Sri Lankan supercar.

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Dr. Harsha Subasinghe
Photo Courtesy: Dinitha Bandara

You will win the market only if you make cool user-friendly products which are customer oriented – Dr. Harsha Subasinghe

Next on the agenda was the panel discussion. The panelists were Dr. Harsha Subasinghe, Dr. Upali Kohomban, Mr. Chamindra De Silva, Dr. Subha Fernando and moderated by Dr. Ajith Madurapperuma. The panel discussion gave the time for many good questions and then it was time to wrap things up.

Photo Courtesy: Dinitha Bandara
Photo Courtesy: Dinitha Bandara

Conclusion

This meetup being the first of it’s kind and having it only announced on meetup.com; the response was great since the auditorium was almost filled to capacity. This proves that AI definitely is something that our tech community loves. According to our friends from SLAAI, they are planning to host a conference on AI. If AI happens to be your thing, you should get in touch with them for more information at: www.slaai.lk

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