This section of the site is still under maintenance. I’m porting everything from Notion to Github. If you see this message, some links might still be broken.
CV, TLDR version:
Over the years I’ve found it increasingly difficult to classify myself. I write, both as a fictioneer and a journalist; I investigate systems, pasts and futures; I program; I work with, think about, and even fictionalize artificial intelligence and machine learning; and in the middle of all this I try to learn how to make things grow. Here’s a very short version of some of the things I’ve done:
- Served as founding editor of Readme.LK, a leading technology publication in Sri Lanka. Grew the publication and team.
- Worked at WSO2, a major middleware provider, as a writer and data science neophyte. Worked on text copy, whitepapers around client implentations (Transport For London, Govt. of Maldova, etc), and designed, prototyped and led implementation on WSO2’s election monitor.
- Worked at LIRNEasia, a regional think tank, working on computational social science research and machine learning. Published widely (specifically, corpus linguistics, social networks, misinformation and hate speech). Worked on projects involving billions of call detail records, friend networks on social media, and built corpora for low-resource languages like Sinhala and Bengali. Contributed in small ways to national-level projects including Sri Lanka’s data protection act.
- Published novels (multi-book deals with HarperCollins and Aethon), wrote for major publications. The Salvage Crew incorporates AI and was named a best SFF book of 2020 by Polygon. Witness, an open-source collaborative futures design project, examines alternate economies and tries to get the underlying principles right.
- Worked on games: Neurocracy (guest writer) and Witness: TCG (lead designer)
- Co-founded Watchdog, a nonprofit focused on data journalism and civic technology in Sri Lanka. As CEO, raised over $300k, built a multidisplicinary team of computer scientists, journalists and researchers, and led major investigations, such as using satellite imagery analysis to locate mass graves, archiving and analysis of vast troves of government data to explain electricity and infrastructure failures, and building open-source medical donations software that is subsequently being used by the Red Cross and Ministry of Health in Sri Lanka.
- Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree, Gratiaen Prize winner for fiction, and Nebula and IGF award-nominated author, TEDx speaker.
I’ve written a number of novels (Numbercaste, The Inhuman Race and sequels, The Salvage Crew). I write primarily in the field of SFF; it’s a vast canvas that lets me toy with ideas I find interesting. I also occasionally work with AI and software of my own design, pursuing a human-AI collaborative thesis; I’ve explored this in work with Wired, Slate and Google Research.
Novels and other major work
The Salvage Crew (2020). A C-tier salvage crew sent out to scrap a downed colony ship. An AI poet overseer fueled by an actual AI poet (OSUN / The Poetry Machine). A strange intelligence that plays the language game. This book was listed by Polygon as one of 2020 ’s best SFF books, became an Amazon and Washington Post bestseller, and was narrated by Nathan Fillion.
Sonnet for the Subconcious War, and other poems from the Automaton (2019). A poetry collaboration between my retrained GPT-instances and Dr. Samuel Peralta, bound for the Moon via the Lunar Codex project.
The Commonwealth Empire trilogy (2018-present). Beginning with the Inhuman Race, this trilogy explores a machine uprising in a biopunk British Raj where Ceylon still remains under colonial rule.
Numbercaste (2017). My first novel, set in a near-future world where one tech startup sets out to upend the world of credit scoring - and ends up writing the formula for the future.
I also work on a fictional, open-source city called Witness over at the SciFi Economics Lab. I’ve written lore, designed cults around rational risk-taking, and designed a card game to let people test out policies from vastly different social contracts against an oncoming apocalypse.
I’ve contributed to Neurocracy (2021), a conspiracy thriller / murder mystery set in the pages of a rapidly mutating, near-future Wikipedia. Neurocracy won the New Media Writing Prize and was the nominated for IGF Excellence in Narrative award.
I also co-designed Witness: the Game (2021), a card game that puts you in charge of different societies facing a wave of Black Swan events (from pandemics to market crashes). You play policies depending on the type of society you run. For example, a capitalist cyberpunk world responds very differently to a religious autocracy.
- Worrying over Potatoes (2022, Google Research)
- The Only Good Doctors (2021, GoverningHealthFutures - a project by The Lancet x The Financial Times)
- The State Machine (2020, Slate.com)
- Work Ethics (2020, Wired.com)
- Confessor (2021, The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction, Volume 2)
- The Art of the Possible (2022, Kalicalypse: Subcontinental Science Fiction - Fantascienza dal subcontinente)
- Claws and Effect (aboard the Lunar Codex)
- The Tragedy of John Metcalf (2019, Parallel Worlds: the Heroes Within)
- Beatnik (2019, Chronicle Worlds: Crime and Punishment. This story is sister to The Writing Contest and is aboard the Lunar Codex)
- A Little Bit of Kali (2019, The Expanding Universe 6; republished 2021 in Escape Pod #792, narrated by Kaushik Narasimhan)
- Messenger, co-written with RR Virdi (2018, The Expanding Universe 5; this story was nominated for the Nebula Award)
- The Writing Contest (2018, Future Visions)
- Deep Ocean Blues (2018, 2054)
- Ozymandias (2019, Horizons Beyond)
- Omega Point: a Short Story about God (2018)
- Dreadnought (2017, The Expanding Universe 3)
- The Slow Sad Sucide of Rohan Wijeratne (2017)
Here’s my Google Scholar profile; it contains my academic papers. The second port of call would be watchdog.team, where our longform explains the large systems that keep things running - combining shoe-leather journalism, data science, software engineering, and a lot of shovel work. I count these two as my most important contributions to the world.
- The Ocean of Change: An exploration of megatrends within the Asia-Pacific region A mapping of inevitable changes on a 2030 timeline; regional shifts to face the challenges presented, and wildcards that can throw monkey wrenches in the works. Based on ontent analysis on national policy documents from influential governments in the region, and futures forecasts from noted bodies, and paired with statistical projections from a range of bodies such as the APERC, the UNDP, and academics in economics. Performed by LIRNEasia with funding from the UNDP.
- Weaponising 280 characters: What 200,000 Tweets and 4,000 Bots tell us About State of Twitter in Sri Lanka 22-page report investigating the rash of bot followers haunting Sri Lankan users on Twitter after March 2018. Analyses 17 block lists, discovered some 4000 bots, and went through over 200,000 tweets. The goal was to analyze the people these bots are following – they seem to be homing in on socially active commentators on Sri Lankan politics – and to extract the logic behind how the bot network operates. We discuss theories at the end – my favourite is that there’s some company building up banks of bots across South Asia (something flagged by FT China) for potential sale later.
- The Facebook ban in Sri Lanka: a 30,000 foot view Analyses 63,800 Facebook posts and 30,000 tweets to examine whether Sri Lanka’s March 2018 social media block actually worked. Follows with a qualitative analysis of the effects, and a note on the legalities around the matter. Last is an appendix of pages analyzed for this report.
- Mapping Election Influence on Social Media: Part One – Twitter The 2015 general election in Sri Lanka was the first where traditional analysts started paying attention to social media. This report analyzes Twitter conversation around the 2016 election hashtags to identify nodes of influence and control in the conversation.
- Mapping Election Influence on Social Media: Part Two – Facebook Extends the analysis onto Facebook, which is the most used social media platform in Sri Lanka, recording the growth, influence and tactics of politicians during the General Election 2015.
- This is the Colombo Port City? An in-depth, investigative piece into the secretive Colombo Port City project, which in 2015 was still under a shroud of government-imposed secrecy. I was one of the first journalists allowed in. Contains maps, plans, theories, details, and was lauded for being one of the most informative pieces written on the Port City.