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The Beginnings of AI and Data Governance:

The Landscape in Sri Lanka

Ramathi Bandaranayake

July 2022

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The fact that AI development and deployment are still at an early stage provides a good opportunity to set norms early, and ensure that discourse about the ethics and social impacts of AI and data go hand in hand with technological advances.


While many governments around the world have recognized the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and are developing policies and strategies to harness these benefits, many countries are still in the early stages of this process. This dynamic can be observed quite clearly in the South Asian region. The government of India has been the most visibly proactive in discussing AI and data governance and releasing numerous policy documents. Other countries, however, lag relatively behind. This chapter considers the experiences of Sri Lanka, ranked 90 in the 2020 Government AI Readiness Index, where the discourse on AI and data governance is still at a very embryonic stage. The chapter first discusses the current landscape of AI and data, some of the policy initiatives that have taken place, and finally, makes recommendations for how norms may be set at this early stage to ensure that these technologies are developed and deployed in an ethical manner. 

Ramathi Bandaranayake

Ramathi Bandaranayake is a Senior Researcher at LIRNEasia, a digital policy think tank based in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and active in the Asia Pacific, where she works on the ethics of technology and science. Her research includes the ethics of data and artificial intelligence and their implementation in policy, the governance of personally identifiable data during epidemics, risk communication during health emergencies, the experiences of gig economy and platform workers in the Asia Pacific, and measures to counter misinformation and hate speech in Asia.