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Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy in Russia

Jeffrey EdmondsSamuel BendettAnya FinkMary ChesnutDmitry GorenburgMichael KofmanKasey StricklinJulian Waller
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The Russian leadership views the ability to innovate as one of the hallmarks of a great power and sees military innovation as essential to Russia’s overall defense posture in a changing threat environment. The goals of Russia’s artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous ecosystem are best understood within the context of Russia’s economic development and modernization efforts, and include those initiatives aimed at the improvement of the wellbeing of Russian citizens as well as the conditions for business and entrepreneurial activity. The following report details the Russian AI ecosystem and is part of a yearlong effort, conducted on behalf of the Department of Defense Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), to understand the evolving field of AI and autonomy in Russia. While focusing on AI and autonomy, the report also seeks to place AI within the larger technological environment in Russia.

Governance and legal aspects of AI in Russia

The Russian government is building the structural legal and governance framework necessary to develop and compete in the rapidly growing field of AI and  autonomy. It is attempting to implement nationwide strategies with goals and metrics to promote an environment supportive of digital—particularly AI—development in Russia. Implementation of these efforts, however, is largely government driven through state-owned businesses. And while AI initiatives are taking hold across the Russian government, the lack of emphasis on private initiatives could hurt Russian efforts in the future. While many Russians are looking to the benefits of greater digitization across Russia, there is also some criticism of government efforts to increase access to private data. Russian citizens are weary of unchecked AI development and its potential impacts on society.

Russia’s AI ecosystem

Russia’s AI ecosystem consists of clusters of interlinked activities between government, state corporate, military, academic, and private actors. However, a key feature of Russia’s AI ecosystem is its leadership by state-owned companies and the large portion of federal funding for the AI sector. These state-owned companies include  incubators, funders, and initiatives aimed at facilitating AI development. The heavy reliance on federal funding has some in Russia concerned that it undermines initiative and technological risk-taking and growth. While surveys and international rankings (such as article surveys and institution rankings) of  Russia’s place in the field of AI suggest that it lags behind other, larger players, it is making some improvement.

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DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A. Approved for public release: distribution unlimited.

Details

  • Pages: 256
  • Document Number: DRM-2021-U-029303-Final
  • Publication Date: 5/12/2021