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Ruwanthi Jayasekara: Researcher at INSSSL Delivers a Guest Speech on “Understanding the Impact of Digitalisation on Society” in Dhaka, Bangladesh

International Conference on “The Digital Revolution: Understanding the Impact of Digitalization” was organized by the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies jointly with Konrad Adanauer Stiftung in Dhaka, Bangladesh from 2nd -3rd September 2019. Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) is a leading institution in Bangladesh for informed analysis on all aspects of broad spectrum of peace and security studies in the region and beyond and The KAS is a political foundation close to the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU).

The conference brought together a panel of 6 speakers that consisted of Ms. Ruwanthi Jayasekara: Research Assistant at Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka (INSSSL) and Secretary Sri Lanka Node of Millenium Project (United States), Dr. Diego Maiorano: Visiting Research Fellow at Institute of South Asian Studies at National University of Singapore, Mr. Dhruva Jaishankar: Fellow of Foreign Policy Studies at Brookings India, Dr. Moonyati Yatid: Senior Analyst of Technology, Innovation, Environment and Sustainability Department at Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Malaysia. Prof. Dr. Imtiaz A Hussain: Head, Global Studies & Governance Programme at Independent University Bangladesh and Mr. Parvez Karim Abbasi: Assistant Professor at Department of Economics at East West University, Bangladesh. The conference was attended by, government officials, officers from Embassies and High Commissions, officers from tri forces and scholars.

International Conference aimed at sharing different aspects of digitalization including transformation, governance, smart city management, digitalization and industrial revolution, impact on society and digital economy. Perspectives from Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Singapore were presented emphasizing the need for crafting a future with quality education to succeed in the era of digital advancement.

Ms. Ruwanthi Jayasekara gave a keynote presentation on “Understanding the Impact of Digitalisation on Society”. Living in the 21st century, world is transformed to a digitalized system with major significance on more and more data. Commencing the presentation with a quote by Peter Sondergaard: “Information is the oil of the 21st century and analytics is the combustion engine”, she highlighted the significance of big data and foresight analysis in the age of digitalization.

Taking scenarios, it was emphasized how China maximized the opportunities of the digital world with better impact on society via self-driven technology, online education, employments and curtailing climate change such as air pollution with technology to analyze the current context and implement a plan of action to mitigate the future threats etc. Ms. Jayasekara identified Singapore as a model for foresight analysis to minimize threats on society with the advancement of digitalization and to strengthen existing development. According to Mr Peter Ong, Head of Civil Service from 2010-2017, “Singapore has never enjoyed the luxury of not planning for the future.” Foresight is the best tool to analyze the future of digitalization. It was depicted how Singapore generated its system of foresight analysis from the Ministry of Defence to Prime Minister’s Office by conducting foresight courses, roundtable discussions, Foresight Week and many more conferences. She encouraged that countries like Sri Lanka could follow Singapore in implementing foresight in public sector with the collaboration of the private sector.

The final interactive session of the conference reached its heights with high engagement of participants posing questions to the speakers on areas of big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IOT), governance, banking systems, Fin Tech, foresight analysis and fourth industrial revolution etc. Highlight of the discussion was the awareness of digitalization and quality education as the solution to tackle threats in the age of digitalization.

INSSSL is trying to gear up foresight analysis in Sri Lanka as the Sri Lankan Node of the Millennium Project which is a global participatory think tank established in 1996 which has pioneered in creating a global foresight network of Nodes, information, and software, building a global collective intelligence system recognized for its ability to improve prospects for humanity.  This conference created space for strategic discourse. Being Valuable insights from were drawn on the development in technology and implementation of foresight across all levels. INSSSL will begin to lay stones for the initiation of foresight in public sector by future collaboration with Singapore.