AI for good: Sri Lanka’s path to predicting and preventing floods

Posted on January 16, 2024  /  0 Comments

In a recent interview on the Sirasa Pathikada programme, Professor Rohan Samarajiva, Chair of LIRNEasia, shed light on the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in addressing various challenges and emphasised the need for mindful use of this technology for public benefit. 

He began by explaining the basic concepts of AI, distinguishing between general AI and narrow AI using simple examples. Prof. Samarajiva then highlighted the application of AI in disaster management, specifically in predicting floods. Drawing attention to Google’s flood forecasting system for the Ganga River in India, he described how AI utilises data from rainfall forecasts, river levels, and historical flood data to generate flood risk maps. He shared that similar efforts are underway for the Kalu and Kelani rivers in Sri Lanka, with ongoing data collection and the use of narrow AI for training. He expressed hope that Sri Lankans will soon experience the benefits of this technology. 

Additionally, Prof. Samarajiva discussed the potential of AI in the medical industry. He mentioned a recent development where MIT researchers used a machine-learning algorithm to identify a drug called halicin, demonstrating its efficacy against various bacterial strains. While acknowledging that further work is needed in this area, he highlighted the promising initial steps taken. 

For more insights, please watch the full interview here. 

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