General — LIRNEasia

LIRNEasia is inviting Proposals from qualified firms and organizations to create two counter measures – the creation of a video and creation of an online game. Details are provided in the full RFP. Proposals must be received by LIRNEasia by 1600 IST on 26th July 2024. Link to the RFP
During the parliamentary debate on the Telecom Bill on Tuesday, July 9, 2024, Member of Parliament Charitha Herath emphasised the need for public engagement and expert consultation in the lawmaking process. He cited the Telecommunications Act amendment as an example where expert input from individuals like LIRNEasia Chair Prof. Rohan Samarajiva refined the legislative outcome. “My friend, Professor Rohan Samarajiva, who is well-versed in this subject, has put forward some good suggestions. In the Determination of the Supreme Court regarding the Telecom Bill, his opinions were agreed upon.
The Annual International Conference on Innovations in Infobusiness & Technology (ICIIT), organised by the Informatics Institute of Technology, took place on May 30-31, 2024, rebranded as ICIIT Conclave 2024. The theme of the conclave was “Large Language Models and Generative AI.” The conference covered a wide array of topics, including: – Advanced prompt engineering techniques for LLMs – Utilising Retrieval-Augmented Generation (RAG) to enrich LLM outputs – Generating datasets with LLMs – Developing and applying multimodal LLMs – Enhancing reasoning and decision-making through AI methodologies – Implementing LLMs across various domains – Exploring transparency, explainability, and ethical considerations in LLM applications – Scalability and maintenance challenges in LLM deployment – Future directions and emerging trends in LLM technology The Conclave featured distinguished keynote speakers who provided deep insights into the evolving landscape of artificial intelligence and its applications. These included Dr. Romesh Ranawana, Chairman of the National Committee to Formulate a Strategy for AI and Group Chief Analytics & AI Officer at Dialog, Prof.
The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka recently ruled that several sections of the proposed Telecommunications Amendment Bill are inconsistent with the country’s Constitution. This decision comes after significant opposition and criticism from experts, including LIRNEasia Chair Prof. Rohan Samarajiva, who had been vocal about the potential threats to democratic values posed by certain provisions in the bill. One of the most controversial aspects of the bill was the proposed Section 59A, which aimed to introduce a new offence related to telecommunications. The section stated: “Every person who, wilfully makes a telephone call or sends or transmits a message using a telephone, with the intention of causing public commotion or disrupting public tranquillity commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one million rupees or to an imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding three months or to both such fine and imprisonment and in the event of the offence being committed continuously, to a fine of one thousand five hundred rupees for each day on which the offence is so committed or an imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.
The implications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) extend beyond mere technological advancement. There is no doubt that while the Global North is gaining most of the benefits of AI, the Global South faces significant problems, such as biased language models. AI has the potential to transform our media systems. It can also disrupt business models, spread disinformation, and erode trust in society. However, AI also offers a transformative potential to democratise information access and increase digital participation.
The Supreme Court last week determined that some sections of the Telecommunications Amendment Bill are inconsistent with the Constitution of Sri Lanka. The determination included a citation of the insights provided by LIRNEasia in a research article (2009) titled “Banded Forbearance: A New Approach to Price Regulation” compiled by LIRNEasia Chair Prof. Rohan Samarajiva and Policy Fellow Tahani Iqbal. The Telecommunications Amendment Bill, introduced by the Sri Lankan government in May, proposed several changes to the regulatory environment of the telecommunications sector. Several petitions were filed challenging various sections of the Bill.
In the rapidly evolving world of Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is important to ensure that society continues to reap its benefits without being subject to its many harms. As AI continues to be integrated into various sectors such as healthcare, finance, and transportation, ensuring these technologies are developed and used responsibly becomes increasingly important. While this need is generally recognised, there is currently a lack of globally representative data on how countries are addressing AI’s challenges and opportunities, especially in relation to the protection and promotion of human rights. Recognising this need, a global effort called the Global Index on Responsible AI (GIRAI) was initiated in 2023 as a flagship project by the Global Center on AI Governance. The GIRAI is the first tool to set globally relevant benchmarks for responsible AI and assess them in countries around the world.
In her latest article for Daily FT, LIRNEasia policy fellow Tahani Iqbal critiques the current amendment process of Sri Lanka’s Telecommunications Act, stating it “has not been transparent and open,” and calling for a comprehensive overhaul of the Act, aligning with the newly issued National Digital Economy Strategy 2030, to truly drive Sri Lanka’s digital development. “It is critical that the Government puts a stop to its conservative and traditional approach to telecoms regulation and handles it in a way that will ensure that digital connectivity spurs the development of the nation. Converged markets and services require converged authorities and approaches to governance. The amended Bill has no place in Sri Lanka’s digital future and should be sent back to the drawing board for a proper re-draft.” Despite several attempts to revise the Act, Tahani argues that the lack of substantial updates has left Sri Lanka with a “low level maturity [in] legal and governance frameworks,” as evidenced by its G2 ranking from the International Telecommunications Union.
In an insightful analysis published in the Daily FT, Professor Rohan Samarajiva, Chair of LIRNEasia, examines whether the proposed amendments to the Sri Lanka Telecommunications Act are ready for the future, or even adequate for the present. While questioning the future-readiness of the legislation in terms of consumer rights and market competition in the telecom sector, Prof. Samarajiva has also asked whether the amendments provide a clear and coordinated legal framework necessary for the future deployment of advanced telecom infrastructure, essential for smart cities. Highlighting several critical issues related to the structure, capacity, and functioning of the Telecom Regulatory Commission (TRC), here are some of the key issues addressed in his analysis. 1.
With the digital world becoming increasingly intertwined with our daily lives, from studying and working to shopping, the digital economy has seen significant growth. In the global digital landscape, data often flows across borders for various transactions, meaning that data generated in one country may be stored and processed in another. This movement of data across international borders isn’t just a technical matter—it’s a major driver of economic development, innovation, international trade, and social progress. However, these cross-border data flows have raised concerns about privacy, security, and data protection. One major worry is data localisation rules, which insist on keeping data within a country’s borders.
Senior Research Manager Gayani Hurulle, in an interview with Echelon for their May issue, discussed Sri Lanka’s readiness for a digital economy. Six experts were interviewed regarding Sri Lanka’s innovation landscape, providing insights into essential components for economic transformation, challenges in digital readiness, parallels with regional models, the intersection of law and technology, climate financing opportunities, and hurdles within the startup ecosystem. Gayani focused on Sri Lanka’s preparedness to embrace a digital economy, emphasising the urgent need to address challenges such as low digital literacy, inadequate infrastructure, and limited female workforce participation. She also highlighted the findings of LIRNEasia’s 2021 nationally representative survey, conducted against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. “According to LIRNEasia’s 2021 nationally representative survey, Sri Lanka grapples with a stark reality: only a fraction of the population possesses the ability to independently perform basic online tasks.
Abu Saeed Khan has taken leave of us. We celebrate a life well-lived and mourn the loss of a valued friend and colleague. The public sphere of Bangladesh and the region is diminished by his demise. I met him in September 2000 in Dhaka, my first visit to Bangladesh, where I had been invited as a former regulator to a regional event organised to welcome and encourage the just-established Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). Learning that the World Bank had pulled its funding to signal displeasure about some last-minute chicanery to create openings for political interference in the governing statute, I did not limit myself to bland good wishes as is customary.
LIRNEasia concluded its first workshop (30 March, 24’), its first and part of a larger series of initiatives on ‘Artificial Intelligence for Social Good’; intended to raise interest and awareness on the potential of AI to benefit society at large. The event featured a keynote speech by Dr. Romesh Ranawana, Chairman of the national AI strategy committee (Sri Lanka, 2024-28). Dr. Ranawana outlined Sri Lanka’s tactical roadmap for AI development, including its synergies with existing digital policies, the challenges still ahead.
LIRNEasia conducted a study on digital platform use across six countries in South and Southeast Asia. The working paper provides insights on popular platform types, drivers of and barriers to adoption, and the impact of COVID-19.
In our blogpost with Citra Labs, we explore the role digital and data can play in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of social safety nets (social assistance) in Sri Lanka.
LIRNEasia Chair, Rohan Samarajiva shared a message with students in Sri Lanka who have completed their formal education on SLVLOG Good Vibes.