Blog — Page 52 of 337 — LIRNEasia

Now that we’ve had some time to figure out 4G/LTE, we got to start on 5G. But it seems it will be some time before the standards will settle, according to the NYT. You may soon start hearing a lot about 5G, or the fifth generation of wireless technology. This technology is expected to leap ahead of current wireless technology, known as 4G, by offering mobile Internet speeds that will let people download entire movies within seconds, and it may pave the way for new types of mobile applications. Yet many challenges exist before 5G becomes part of our daily lives.
I was competitively selected to attend the Self-Organizing Conference on Machine Learning 2016 organized by OpenAI which was held in San Francisco on October 7-8, 2016. OpenAI is a non-profit artificial intelligence (AI) research company initiated by Elon Musk and top research scientists in AI and machine learning (ML) to promote safe and friendly AI. Since its inception in late 2015 the company has attracted top researchers and scientists from both industry and academia to work on most interesting problems of AI. The Self-Organizing Conference on Machine Learning 2016 was an experimental gathering that OpenAI organized for the first time to promote collaboration amongst AI/ML researchers, overcoming the overheads of a conventional academic conference. This is how they presented the motive behind organizing this event.
  eZ Cash organized an event titled FreelancerSL 2.0 at Dialog auditorium on 23rd October 2016. The aim of this event was to educate the local freelancers about the opportunities on freelancing and on how to get in to online freelancing. LIRNEasia’s shared key findings of the nationally representative survey conducted among 16-40 year olds on the level of awareness of online freelancing and willingness to involve in online freelancing. In addition, we highlighted the opportunities available for freelancers and the challenges online freelancers face in Sri Lanka.
As part of the Inclusive Information Society research, we at LIRNEasia were in the process of interrogating the labor force and related data. Then there was this headline about there being no need for one million jobs when only 400,000 people were unemployed. Two days later, the op-ed refuting the absurdity of comparing one million over five years target with a static unemployment figure was published. As can be seen, having the data ready was extremely helpful for the quick response. If we are to escape from the middle-income trap and get established on a high-growth trajectory, it is imperative that all sectors of society understand the importance of creating jobs with the characteristics demanded by our young people and by the women who are sitting out the job market.
Iraq has engaged Cisco to build a terrestrial optical network up to Turkey. Dubbed as “The Iraqi National Backbone” it will reach most major Iraqi cities. It will be available to the public as the new official internet service provider (ISP) for Iraq. The new network is an alternative to existing submarine networks that reached the Middle East from Europe either via the Suez Canal, or by a longer route around the Horn of Africa. It will offer the highest capacity and lowest latency of any Europe-Middle East communications solution.
Presented at FreelancerSL 2.0 Dialog Auditorium 23 October 2016
Last week, there was a two-day gathering of young politicians from Finland and Sri Lanka outside Colombo, in Usvetakeyiyava. The only common factor was age. Both sides had multiple political parties represented among them. I was asked to discuss the current political and economic situation in the country. I discussed some of the key challenges that we face, but which our political system does not give much weight to, except perhaps the first two, since 2015.
Jaffna Management Forum (JMF) – 18th October 2016 Jaffna Advance Technical Insitute – 19th October 2016
One member of the above-capacity audience at the Jaffna Managers’ Forum event on “Online freelancing as a gateway to the service sector” wanted to know why we were not providing detailed, how-to instructions on the use of Fiverr and similar platforms. He appeared to have trouble with the concept of a think tank that was simply raising awareness based on research findings, which had nothing to sell. Suthaharan Perampalam, who did the heavy lifting on this first initiative of the dissemination of the findings of our inclusive information society project, responded along with the Leader of the Opposition of the Northern Province legislature, Mr Thavarajah, and the questioner was satisfied. The starting point of our dissemination effort in Jaffna was the low level of awareness of online freelancing in the Jaffna District (19%) versus 26 percent awareness for the entire country and over 40 percent in the Wayamba Province. Jaffna has always been known for its emphasis on learning.
The two-day workshop (Oct 17 & 18, 2016) in Moratuwa, invited Sarvodaya members from Batticaloa, Colombo, Gampaha, and Kegalle Districts. These participants have first-hand experience responding to the 2016 Western floods & landslide and the 2015 Northeast floods, in Sri Lanka. The objective was to share their tacit knowledge on taking a holistic and practical approach to responding to crises. Then give them the tools to analyze the experience to develop the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) themselves. To that end, we applied community engagement social practices methods for analyzing the knowledge to realize the design parameters for developing the Sarvodaya Disaster Response SOP.
I was invited to speak to the staff of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Seville last Tuesday (11th October 2016). Their colleagues from Ispra, Italy joined in via video conference as well. I talked about LIRNEasia’s experiences and lessons in leveraging big data for public purposes. The slides that I used are available HERE.
We have been engaging with local universities from the start of our big data work, not just to source researchers and collaborators, but also to broaden the horizons of students. That big data can be leveraged for public purposes is not something that they had previously thought of till we arrived on the scene. This week (18th October 2016) we continued those efforts, conducting a lecture for students at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura on our ongoing big data for development research. The slides are available HERE.
LIRNEasia in partnership with the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) convened a two-day workshop to discuss a ‘research and policy agenda on big data for sustainable development in the Global South.’ The workshop held in Madrid on the 8th and 9th of October 2016, was a side event of the International Open Data Conference 2016.  The objective of the workshop was to brainstorm ways of establishing Southern-led network to tackle some of the emerging opportunities and challenges in the use of big data in developing countries. The workshop explored a variety of issues around leveraging big data to tackle sustainable development. These include issues around representativity and marginalization, researching harms (competition, privacy, surveillance), researching solutions (legislation, regulation, ethics), and addressing challenges in relation to developing research capacity, accessing data and influencing policy.
It appears that Govt of India is excited about the digital India, specially the use of social media. Last week, I had the pleasure of listening to the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Col Rajvardhan Rathore who released the book entitled, ‘India Connected’. In his short speech he highlighted the importance of social media and how its impacting the governance and other related industries. Looks like the minister is a nice and warm person and would be interested in listening to researchers. The edited book covers all possible areas of ICTs in India and makes an interesting read for beginners.
LIRNEasia has worked with Sarvodaya, one of Sri Lanka’s well-established community-based organizations, since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. As part of our HazInfo project, they established a disaster response unit and embedded resilience as part of their work plans and training. They had come to think that the government would take the lead in providing immediate assistance in the aftermath of a disaster because a Ministry focused on disaster management had been established and the various entities under it active. The urban flood disaster that hit the lower reaches of the Kelani river made them rethink their stance. The government response was seen as slow and ineffective.
Ideally, we would have had findings. But we are in the middle of research, so what we can present is work in progress: problems that have been faced; those that have been solved; those we’re still working on; etc. Hopefully, once we get our hands on the needed epidemiological data we will present findings in a few months. We are grateful to the incoming President of the Commonwealth Medical Association, Professor Vajira Dissanayake, for creating this opportunity for us. The presentation was made at a session chaired by Dr Hasitha Tissera, the Head of the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health.