Disrupt Asia 2018

16:15 AM - 16:45 PM

Opening Keynote

Innovation and entrepreneurship are at the heart of Sri Lanka’s ambitious vision for economic transformation and global integration. An economic growth model that is more open, private sector led and knowledge intensive is key if Sri Lanka is to realise its aspiration of becoming an upper middle-income country.

The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Strategy of Sri Lanka 2018-2022 lays out the journey ahead. It identifies current challenges, lays out three concrete Strategic Objectives and corresponding Operational Objectives, and includes specific-costed initiatives.

Sri Lanka envisions a resilient and innovative economy, an entrepreneurial society and a dynamic public Research and Development (R&D) sector for export competitiveness and better jobs. It is hoped this Strategy will ignite a deep cultural change and further boost the economic transformation that is currently underway.

Does Sri Lanka stand competitive in Innovation and Entrepreneurship?Are strategies and policies adequate to build the ecosystem for scaling economic growth?
Creative industries inherently reimagine, reshape and rethink on its own in order to survive the dynamic nature of customer needs and wants. The consumers of the digital age has unsettled the Industry and demands a rate of change like never before. While content, technology and people remain as the core elements of the industry rethinking its convergence is an ongoing discussion.

The experience expectation of the consumer when playing a video game, listening to music or watching a video has become so diverse that none other than artificial intelligence can capture human reality. The technology savvy consumer is disrupting the creative industry.

On the other hand, the possibilities created with artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality are unprecedented. The music we listen to, the literature we read, the art we admire, the movies that we watch, the plethora of such content which stimulate our senses are now being created by artificially intelligent machines.

Is technology reshaping the creative Industry or is it the consumer demand? How can technology reinvent the value chain of creative content delivery? How do we pursue the right blend of artificial intelligence and human creativity?
To achieve the greatest success, you have to embrace the prospect of failure. The sweetest victory is the one that’s most difficult. The one that requires you to reach down deep inside, to fight with everything you’ve got, to be willing to leave everything out there on the battlefield—without knowing, until that do-or-die moment, if your heroic effort will be enough.

When we take a closer look at the great thinkers throughout history, a willingness to take on failure isn’t a new or extraordinary thought at all. The exceptions are those failures that become steppingstones to later success. They’re veterans of failure. Great success depends on great risk, and failure is simply a common byproduct. The quickest road to success is to possess an attitude toward failure of ‘no fear,’

Why Failure Is Good for Success? Is failure life’s greatest teacher? When the rewards of success are great, isn’t it challenging to embrace possible failure?
Social entrepreneurship has become a buzz word globally. Some would say it’s another gimmick of the capitalist market to carve a niche for another avenue of commerce. USA in particular have caught on to this jargon in order to differentiate themselves from others. Sri Lanka was introduced to ‘sustainability’ and ‘social impact’ not long ago but its seems that such values had been inherent in our enterprises all along.

Incubators, accelerators and impact funds targeting social entrepreneurship is mushrooming in the world. ‘Impact investment’ wanted to break the cliche and broaden the definition to include any business which had a net positive impact on environment and society. USA introducing the b-corp registration paved way for corporates to consciously think about the impact to the world in their journey to make profits and be incentivized for it.

Somehow profits seems to be a bad word in the world of social entrepreneurship. Could a social enterprise be a profitable business? What are the models of social entrepreneurship? can every entrepreneur be a social entrepreneur? How do i determine the net positive impact of my business? What is the role of digital in causing positive social impact?
Five years ago, raising a million dollars as a technology startup in Sri Lanka was not heard of. Did the investors not have confidence to put the green sheets on the table or were there no startup worth investing that much?

Over the years, the ecosystem grew from strength to strength with new programs, new investors, new infrastructure, new competitions etc. but however, very few startups have been able to reach that big number of getting a million dollars or more in funding.

Since 2017, the landscape seemed to have changed. Several startups have received over a million dollars in funding from local and regional investors. What has changed? Is it the hype on startups? the confidence of investors in startups? or have the entrepreneurs themselves stepped up their game?
23:00 AM - 23:30 PM

Closing Keynote

Industry 4.0 bring about the convergence of digital to all aspects of human life. Digital adoption will not be a topic of concern for the startups of the future since digital will be embedded. In an age of automation, artificial intelligence and robotics the competitive edge of any organisation will be the collective abilities of its human assets. This digital age demands a skill set of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and problem solving.

The current workforce need to adopt such skills sets while the future workforce should adapt and be ready. Can the primary and higher education continue the same methodology of teaching to inculcate such skills? Hence education is looking to creative approaches to bring about this change but does teachers, principal and administrative offices understand the need for change? STEAM, makerspaces, coding in school and entrepreneurial thinking are words being thrown about but what does it all mean? How can we as the startup community spearhead this change?
The first ever TV advertisement was broadcasted in 1941. It was 5 decades later that the internet as we know it now was available for the public to use. Fast forward to 2018, almost every single website now carries advertisements for almost everything that's available for sale.

In 2018, a 30 second NFL Super Bowl advertising costs almost as high at USD 5 million to reach an audience of 100 million people of which many may not be your customer. But on the same budget, you could reach a million people on Facebook who have a better probability of buying your product. So is traditional marketing still relevant? Do TV, Radio and Newspaper advertisements still have any effect on consumers? How does a business find the right balance to spend their marketing budget on? Or should we just place all bets on digital marketing?
The true realisation of connectedness is not achieved by merely being connected but when content is shared among those who are connected either one to one or one to many. This connection is built on trust, which is more a faith that we have on the connected community. The artificially created sense of control in cyberspace which one feels privy to could be just an illusion.

Data has become a commodity which most of the time is acquired for free but sold at a price knowingly or unknowingly to the owner of the date. Enforcing of data privacy laws are feeble in certain economies but does that give us the right to exploit the data of our clients?

Can the startup ecosystem act as the catalyst to bring about a secure connected society? What are the cyber security related laws and initiatives in place to secure a connected society in Sri Lanka and is data actually protected? What is General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its impact to Sri Lankan public and private sector companies?
1. AI usage in business and the potential, (examples such as Facebook M, the text-based virtual assistant that used human workers to train an artificial intelligence system, Chat bots with AI and Google services with AI, etc.)

2. Artificial Intelligence in the areas of Automation and Augmentation

3. What might possibly come in the future (impact it has on job market too) and what sort of supervision and regulations should come in to play.

Alan Turing developed the Turing Test in the 1950’s to test the machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. In 2018, Google did a public demo of Google Duplex, a system they that is being developed in which an AI will make calls to real businesses and get work done without the person on the other side of the call even knowing it was a machine talking to them.

The line between what a machine could do and what a human can do is thinning by the day. While we lose jobs to automation and AI by the day, humans are forced to find creative ways to stay relevant. But what happens when Artificial Intelligence fails? AI Apocalypse?

While all technologies built over the years past has had an alternative, artificial intelligence is a technology that does not yet seem to have an alternative. Billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk famously one said “AI will be the best or the worst thing ever for humanity. So let's get it right”. The question now is, how do we get it right?