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The Russia Studies Program
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The Artificial Intelligence in Russia newsletter features a summary of recent Russian-language reports on the Russian AI and autonomy ecosystem, divided into the following sections:

  • Governance and Legal Developments
  • Military and Security Developments
  • Corporate and Market Developments
  • Education and Training Developments
  • International Collaboration
  • Spotlight: Marker Unmanned Ground Vehicle
  • In Brief: Concept for Developing AI and Robotics Regulations Until 2024

The following preview shows the first item in this issue:

1. AI federal project adopted

In August, key stakeholders of the “Digital Economy” nonprofit organization (ANO) working group repeatedly stated that the release of the long-awaited AI federal project was imminent. The goal of the project, intended to aid implementation of Russia’s October 2019 National AI Development Strategy, is for the Russian “enterprises and citizens to use products (services), based predominantly on domestic AI technologies, that provide a qualitatively new level of activity effectiveness.” Its key activities seek to generate demand for Russia-developed AI products and services, stimulate human capital, and improve access to large datasets to stimulate AI development.

In July, Russian president Putin instructed his Cabinet of Ministers to approve a federal project by autumn and to ensure its funding through the budget of the Digital Economy national program. The federal project on AI will be one of the seven federal projects of the Digital Economy program. AI in Russia has previously reported on the development of this federal project, to include statements by Russia’s president Vladimir Putin about the need to speed up its completion and rumors about the project’s structure, revised metrics, and funding cuts due to the impact of the COVID pandemic on the Russian economy. (Please see issues 4, 5, 6, and 9.)

On August 27, the Ministry of Economic Development announced that the federal project has been adopted and the text of the summary document of the federal project appeared in some online publications. The various elements of the federal project are coordinated by the Ministry of Economic Development (responsible for the AI ecosystem), Ministry of Communications (AI implementation, development of datasets), and Ministry of Industry and Trade (production of equipment). The Emphasis is reportedly on developing research centers in the “strong AI” area, trusted computer systems, computer vision, speech synthesis and recognition, and ethical aspects of AI employment. We would note that the reference to “strong AI”in the sense of being equivalent to human intelligence, the goals of companies like DeepMind and OpenAI, seems overly ambitious and its reference in the document may represent goals short of what is more widely understood as “strong AI.”

According to reports, it is anticipated that the budget cuts to the federal project (as reported in issue 9 of AI in Russia) are set to stand. According to the project summary, the funding will be at 22.5 billion rubles from the Digital Economy national program, and 6.9 billion from the state program “development of electronic and radioelectronic industry,” budget sources on digital transformation, and other extra budgetary sources.

The federal project has a range of desired implementation metrics to be met by 2024, including training of specialists in AI, growth in conference publication, AI readiness in priority areas of the Russian economy, the ability of the federal executive bodies to conduct activities to adopt AI and prepare datasets, and state support for small and medium AI companies. Following a strategic session on AI held on August 22, the leaders for digital transformation at the federal executive agencies developed action plans to implement AI into their departments’ and industries’ activities and submit the plans to the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications, and Mass Media for consideration. According to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko, “AI activities will be included in national and federal projects and departmental digital transformation programs. Each agency will have to develop roadmaps for implementing AI in the activities of its departments and industries.” While all federal ministries and departments are expected to integrate AI technologies into their activities, the priority sectors are agriculture, healthcare, industry, and transport. With regard to the last metric, on September 4, Russia’s prime minister Mikhail Mishustin announced that the Russian government would provide 12 billion rubles in support of startup AI developers over the next four years. Please stay tuned for more details on the federal project in future issues of AI in Russia.

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DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A. Approved for public release: distribution unlimited. 9/25/2020


  • Pages: 26
  • Document Number: DOP-2020-U-028240-Final
  • Publication Date: 9/25/2020
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