The 26th of June was an interesting day. Why? Because of the launch of the SLASSCOM AI Policy for Sri Lanka. The policy was developed in partnership with the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka, together with the Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure. So the question on our minds was, what does this policy entail? Well, that’s what we were about to find out.
What does the SLASSCOM AI Policy do?
In simple terms, the SLASSCOM AI Policy puts forward a national approach on how the IT Industry in Sri Lanka can harness the power of AI and robotics to help its citizens and the economy. Jeevan Gnanam – Chairman of SLASSCOM shared that “As machine learning capabilities improve, world governments are now investing even more in AI research. We are delighted to have been able to develop this policy framework, where we have put forward strategy and investment recommendations across various sectors on how to strengthen Sri Lanka’s competitiveness in AI.”
Given its strength and capacity, Sri Lanka is fully capable of making use of this technology. Doing so would make the country a key player amongst its South Asian peers in the fields of AI Policy, research and delivery.
What areas would fall under the policy?
As per the SLASSCOM AI Policy, there would be collaboration between public bodies such as MODSIT, ICTA and the UGC as well as SLASSCOM, FITI and SLANSHEI from the private sector. The collaboration is open for debate and comments for the next 6 months. During this, the policy framework will be incubated within SLASSCOM’s walls.
The SLASSCOM AI Policy is based on the three tenets of responsible AI development. They are transparency, nation before self and data-driven recommendations. Drawing inspiration from these, the SLASSCOM AI Policy can play a role in fields such as education, government, agriculture, and healthcare.
While identifying shortcomings in the current system, the SLASSCOM AI policy would also aim to systematically address and resolve these problems as well. For example, in relation to agriculture, the policy proposes the use of predictive analytics to increase crop yields.
In healthcare, the SLASSCOM AI Policy would implement the use of AI imaging tools and the automation of clinical trials and perhaps even surgery. Education is also a key point that the SLASSCOM AI Policy aims to streamline. It calls for scaling up of AI skill development and the actual implementation of AI in the education system in Sri Lanka. Further, it proposes more investment in R&D for AI-enabled government policy. This, in turn, would boost industrial capacity and increase economic growth.
Harnessing the power of Amazon Web Services
Adding to this, SLASSCOM also announced the launch of its knowledge and skills mission. The mission would be to train 50,000 students from both engineering and non-engineering fields on cloud computing and AI skills. The mission would run for the next two years in collaboration with Amazon Web Services through the companies AWS Educate program.
With AWS Educate, students and educators would receive all the resources they require to boost cloud-related learning. Educational institutes in Sri Lanka would also be able to start Degree programs related to cloud. Furthermore, whilst providing access to virtual AI/ML labs and high performance computing (HPC) on the cloud AWS will also collaborate with SLASSCOM on how redefining future skills and relevant learning paths.
In addition, AWS would also help Sri Lankan startups via its Activate program. This gives startups and those who are part of AWS the resources needed to fully setup AWS. It includes promotional credits, along with remote training and support. AWS would work with Hatch to help startups through its AWS Activate program. As such, access to technology platforms such as Amazon Sumerian, Sagemaker, Rekognition, Lex and Polly will all be a lot easier.
Jeevan shared that “This is a landmark collaboration between SLASSCOM, ICTA, and AWS and opens vistas of knowledge sharing for future generations of Sri Lankans. It is in-sync with our strategy to create the third pillar of industry excellence around data science and AI, and build a vibrant startup ecosystem that will leverage Sri Lanka’s data science talent. We are grateful to them for coming together to make this dream a reality.”