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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: Msta-SM 2S19M2 Self-Propelled Howitzer
  • V. Putin’s Remarks at AI Journey

The following preview shows the first item in this issue:

1. Putin outlines AI development strategies at Sber-organized conference

On December 4, Russian president Vladimir Putin gave a speech at an annual AI-focused conference, organized by Russia’s Sberbank (now Sber). In his remarks, Putin outlined the evolution of Russia’s AI development strategy to date and argued for the continued importance of digital transformation for Russia’s development. He asserted that AI “is not a so-called fashionable hype, not a prestigious trend that will disappear altogether tomorrow or the day after.” We offer a summary of Putin’s speech below, and its full text is available at the end of this newsletter.

Stressing the importance of indigenous technology, Putin highlighted the assistance of AIenabled systems in COVID diagnostics and noted advancements in the testing and deployment of unmanned transport, agriculture machinery, and ships. He stated that Russia would create six research centers focused on ICT and AI technologies, increase the number of subsidized spots in AI-focused higher education, improve STEM education at all levels, and seek to attract talent from abroad.

Putin argued that, over the next 10 years, it will be important to conduct a digital transformation that will ensure that digital technologies improve the lives of Russian citizens. He called on the government to continue experimentation with legal frameworks for AI, and to develop strategies for the digital transformation in 10 areas of the Russian economy. He noted efforts to finalize the legislation on the access to large datasets, including those held by the government, by companies developing neural networks. At the same time, he pointed out the importance of eliminating risks of leaks of personal information. Putin also discussed risks associated with AI development and the importance of creating a moral-ethical code.

Coverage of the event quoted numerous Russian academic and industry experts as saying that AI-enabled systems have already begun transforming Russia’s financial, agricultural, heavy industry, transport, and education spheres. They noted Russia’s progress, including Yandex translations, unmanned trucks by Kamaz, facial recognition systems, and voice assistants (developed by Sber and Yandex), but pointed out that the United States and China remain the two leading superpowers in the AI sphere. Although Russia is lagging behind them and other states in Europe and Asia, the experts noted that the country has made progress. Some noted that, despite the growth of Russia’s AI business ecosystem, Russia still has a relatively low level of AI research and needs to invest in this area. For example, one expert noted that Chinese participants make up about 50 to 60 percent of attendees at global conferences, whereas Russian researchers are in the minority.

The president of Kazakhstan was also present at the conference to highlight the cooperation between the two countries in the AI sphere, as discussed in past issues of AI in Russia.

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DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A. Approved for public release: distribution unlimited. 12/18/2020


  • Pages: 40
  • Document Number: DOP-2020-U-028818-Final
  • Publication Date: 12/18/2020
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