Sri Lanka should open more international Universities - Dhammika Perera | Daily News


Sri Lanka should open more international Universities - Dhammika Perera

Private sector, Govt must promote AI
Dhammika Perera addresses the event
Dhammika Perera addresses the event

Sri Lanka should permit globally reputed universities to set up campuses within a radius of 30 KM to the Colombo International Airport, said business magnate Dhammika Perera.

He was delivering a standing lecture for two and half hours at the Nelum Pokuna in an event organized by the Computer Society of Sri Lanka (CSSL) under the theme ‘National Strategy using Artificial Intelligence,’ (AI) last Friday.

“I personally believe that this event was a great initiative by the CSSL which is why I chose to get myself involved in. Applications for AI are endless and if properly implemented, many problems that plague society from security, education, healthcare and all other aspects, could be solved. Eventually, this would turn our harassed society into one that is definitely more caring to one another.”

He said that this would firstly stop Sri Lankan students migrating overseas for education (saving the country over US$ one billion annually) and also woo foreign students to come to Sri Lanka for education, opening up a new way of earning foreign exchange. However, these universities should be given concessions and most importantly, a firm 25 year agreement that would spell out their investment is safe despite political changes.

“Malaysia practices this method very successfully and currently, there are over 200,000 foreign students studying in campuses.”

He said the suggestion by the 2019 Budget to provide a loan for higher education was timely, since local universities could only accommodate around 30, 000 students out of over 150, 000 students who pass the Advanced Leave exam.

Recalling his time as Chairman of BOI from 2007 to 2011, he said the 24 hour approval process that he introduced was very successful. The investors were given a hard time, while these projects were delayed due to red tape and I managed to iron them out and bring in US$ 2 billion worth of investments in 2011, which was the highest in history at that time.

“I turn around the BOI from a harassing society culture to a caring society culture and the FDI increased.”

AI for health sector

Commenting on the health sector, he said that today a heart patient seeking free heart surgery had to wait in a queue and sometimes his number was 5,000. However, if ‘Artificial intelligence’and ‘geo tagging’ could be introduced to the heart surgery segment in government hospitals, patients could be able to get his or her surgery done as he or she would be able to see the less congested hospitals.

“Also, heart surgeries are done from 8 30 a.m. to 4 30 p.m. while the government should also explore the possibility of extending operating there hours by three hours and come up with an overtime system for doctors and staff to reduce the painful congestion for a surgery that could save a life.”

He also suggested that all medical reports be ‘tagged’ so that they could be accessed from any computer from any hospital, so that they do not have to be retaken during an emergency.

The former Secretary to the Sri Lanka Transport Ministry said that both ‘Artificial intelligence’ and ‘geo tagging’ should be introduced to buses and trains too. “By this, passengers could find out where the train or bus using an app is and then come to the station rather than waste their valuable time.”

He suggested a GPS devise be fitted to either bus or train and passengers could use Geo Tagging and know in advance where the vehicle is. “Such a system is used by both Pick Me and UBER in Sri Lanka today.”

AI for Crime prevention, natural disasters

Perera who is the Chairman of several companies, said that AI, GPS and Geo Tagging could be used to prevent crimes committed by Island Reconvicted Criminals (IRC) as well. “Law enforcement authorities must photograph and tag all IRCs and when they attempt to commit a crime going in groups, cameras fitted at Traffic lights could spot them and inform the Police, which could then apprehend them. Their finger prints too should be tagged.”

There are over 99,000 traffic arrests per year and using AI, could also be reduced and create more ‘road discipline’ as cameras would monitor and issue fines online.

He also said that AI should be used more frequently for disaster management specially to control floods. “However, the most commonly used method is asking people to evacuate from Kelaniya area when the Kelani River water levels reach a certain mark.

Traffic lights and roundabouts

He was however, critical of the Traffic Police and said that Sri Lanka may be the only country in the world where there is a traffic light and a roundabout at the same junction. Each vehicle had to drive around 15 meters due to a roundabout and when 10, 000 vehicles pass that roundabout, you could imagine how much of additional fuel is burnt to go round this roundabout.”

He said the Traffic Police should take an initiative and remove either the roundabout or the traffic light at the same place as the government annually spends Rs. 65 billion to upkeep the Police.

Police should initiate installing ‘Smart’ Traffic lights where it would detect lanes with heavy traffic and provide more time to that lane.

He also said that AI could be deployed to detect and inform illegal garbage being dumped and also about unreported accidents, street lights that have gone off to the relevant authorities.

He was also critical of the Central Bank data and said that according to the CBSL Annual Report, the population which increases by around 225, 000 each year had not been published. “In some years Sri Lanka’s population had not increased according to CBSL data!”

He said Sri Lanka has one of the highest suicide rates per year (3,200) in the world and data collected by him shows that most suicides happen during the month of February and March and between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Love affairs, diseases and quarrels at home are some of the main causes for these. “There are more husbands than wives committing suicide due to domestic issues at home.”

“Geo tagging could be used to identify possible victims and precautions could be taken by both parents and authorities.”

AI surveys for Singer advertising

Perera who is the Chairman of Singer Sri Lanka, said that they invest around Rs. 1.5 billion annually for advertising and very soon it would be the AI devices and surveys that would tell them in which media their advertising should be made.

Similarly, he said that Rocell Tiles, another company owned by him, would also use AI to find out demand and trends of house builders to collect their data. “We will study behavior patterns of people via AI and when a person decides to build a house, he or she would receive his bathroom and tile equipments and shapes online for him to decide which to purchase. When he decides on the suggested models, all payments and tile delivery could be done online without having to visit a Rocell show room.”

Future of the world

Perera said that he spends most of his time with researches and study the modern trends of the world, while he is now in a position to predict some of the future innovations.

“I have appointed competent people to run my institutions and I am engaged in research and AI studies.”

“I can say that 5G would be implemented in 2020, 6G in 2030 and 7G in 2040. When 6G is introduced, most of the small telecom transmitting towers would disappear and one single tower would serve the entire Sri Lanka. Under 7G system the signals would come via satellite.” Looking back, 1G was introduced in 1980, 2G in 1990 and 3G in 2000, followed by 4G in 2010.

Most of the robotic services in the world today, is talking about would happen when 6G is implemented. He recalled that it was in 1997 that a robot beat the world chess champion and presently, many countries are scheduling saloon and hospitality bookings without human intervention. Similarly, we would soon witness driverless cars as well.

He predicted that while some of the existing jobs would be taken over by robots, a new cycle of jobs would be created specially in the health care segments as due to advanced medical sciences, life expectancy would increase from 80 to 90 years and there would be a rise the population.

He said that a Bee has unique qualities in gathering food, storing them and organizing its colony. The bee has one million neurons in its brain, but the humans have 86 billion neurons in their brains and human would create more wonders in the world.” 

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