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AI and Autonomy in Russia, Issue 27

The Russia Studies Program
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Highlights of Issue 27

  • In AI Journey conference speech, Putin discusses Russia's priorities in AI development.
  • Russia is pushing military AI and autonomy in the maritime domain.
  • Russia advances in international supercomputer rankings because of new Yandex and Sber additions.
  • Studies point to reasons for Russia's IT sector brain drain.
  • Sber to participate in Council of Europe's partnership on new technologies.

Governance and Legal Developments

1. Putin speaks at AI Journey conference

On November 12, Russian president Vladimir Putin spoke for the third time at the annual AI Journey conference, organized by Sber. He began by saying that AI "is a field that attracts talented, creative people that are ready to dream big and work toward their goals" and "is the cutting edge of science and engineering." He further noted, "It is very important to make sure that these breakthroughs opening up truly limitless opportunities do not harm but help people, help save our planet and ensure its sustainable development." Putin also made the following points before he entertained questions primarily from young participants in the conference:

  • The economic environment is being transformed into one that will strive to "work toward the interests and needs of individual customers" and affect "not only the economy but also the social sphere and government administration."
  • Russia needs to be among the leaders in this transformation because ''the winners in today's world are those who are making better use of the powerful technological potential in the interests of people and their prosperity. They are winning the global competition."
  • Russian companies need to "accelerate the digital transformation across the board and as soon as possible move from isolated experiments and pilot initiatives to end-to-end projects with AI applications, primarily in areas that determine quality of life."
  • The mission of the Russian "state, scientists, engineers, and innovative businesses" is to "make the technologies of the future accessible right now and see that they serve all the country's citizens and our national development goals."
  • The government needs to "carefully analyze our development plans for industry, the social sphere, transport, communications and telecommunications" because these "plans must be aligned and closely coordinated with sectoral and regional strategies for the introduction of artificial intelligence and, of course, with the progress of our entire development agenda." It also needs to tailor education in AI technologies to specialists in the above-mentioned sectors.
  • The pace of the government in efforts to "help businesses conduct technological upgrades and to offer tax incentives to companies and organizations" in this regard has been unacceptably slow.
  • Russia needs to "remove as swiftly as possible all excessive barriers to designing and introducing advanced solutions including in AI, to form a regulatory and legal environment which corresponds to the level of the technological progress."
  • Data access is important to the development of these technologies, but "it is necessary to have effective mechanisms for the anonymization and storage of data and maximally clear, understandable rules for providing this anonymous information, as well as firm guarantees for protecting the rights and interests of people, including their private life." It is also essential to provide access to experts, institutions, and businesses to "the state's anonymized data bases" because "in current conditions any attempt to establish a monopoly on data limits free competition and economic development."
  • Security of personal citizen information needs to be considered. For example, with regard to biometric information "the state must take responsibility for storing it yet ensure free access to it for banks and other organizations, but in a fully encrypted form, which rules out any external interference and open access to one's personal data."
  • Cooperation among countries is important because "the creation and application of AI technologies for the sake of society, humankind, for the preservation of our planet, for studying the world ocean and outer space - these are all truly civilizational challenges and absolutely sweeping."
  • Russia's education in the AI sphere is aimed at "creating a system of interdisciplinary research incorporating both the natural sciences and the humanities, which is indispensable for developing strong artificial intelligence."

Source: "Artificial intelligence conference," President of Russia website, Nov. 12, 2021, http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/67099.

2. Sber hosts AI Journey 2021 conference

On November 10-12, Sber hosted the annual AI Journey conference. More than 52,000 participants from 125 countries registered to attend the conference, which saw more than 250 speakers from Russia and abroad, and included a special conference for younger participants (AI Journey Junior). Among many announcements, the following statements were made at the conference:

  • Sber president German Gref stated that in 2021 incorporation of AI technologies will net Sber 100-200 billion rubles in profit, more than expected, and this amount is projected to increase next year. The conference included numerous announcements of awards and technologies from Sber, including a new supercomputer, Christofari Neo.
  • Presidential aide Maksim Oreshkin announced that, as part of programs to digitize the economy and incorporate AI technologies, more than 3 million new jobs may be created in Russia by 2025.
  • Russia's deputy prime minister Dmitry Chernyshenko stated that "AI technologies will increase the effectiveness of digital transformation by 6-7 times." He noted that effectiveness is understood as speed, quality, level of personalization, economic effectiveness, and objectiveness.
  • Chernyshenko also stated that Russia is likely to meet Putin's goal of entering the list of top 10 countries in terms of volume of scientific research and development by 2030; he stated that, "if we maintain current growth rates, we will be seventh by 2025 and fourth by 2030."

The English-language website of the conference: https://ai-journey.ru/en.

Sources: AI journey website, https://ai-journey.ru/, accessed Nov. 29, 2021; "Sber may see AI earnings around 200 billion rubles" [«Сбер» сможет заработать за счет ИИ около 200 млрд рублей], IA Red Spring, Nov. 13, 2021, https://rossaprimavera.ru/news/cc041921; "By 2025 in Russia there will be more than 3 million AI-connected work positions" [В России до 2025 года будет создано более 3 млн рабочих мест, связанных с ИИ], TASS, Nov. 10, 2021,

https://tass.ru/ekonomika/12879257; "Chernyshenko: AI technologies increase effectiveness of digital transformation by 6-7 times" [Чернышенко: технологии ИИ увеличивают эффективность цифровой трансформации в 6-7 раз], Nov. 11, 2021, https://tass.ru/ekonomika/12892167; "Chernyshenko: almost 50% of AI MedTech-services in Russia are aimed at COVID diagnostics" [Чернышенко: почти 50% MedTech-сервисов в РФ на основе ИИ направлены на диагностику ковида], TASS, Nov. 11, 2021, https://tass.ru/ekonomika/12892677; "Chernyshenko: according to forecasts, Russia will take 4th place in scientific research in 2030" [Чернышенко: по прогнозам, РФ займет четвертое место по научным исследованиям в 2030 году], Nov. 11, 2021, https://nauka.tass.ru/nauka/12893065.

3. Russian deputy foreign minister describes new threat posed by AI in terrorist hands

In an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Oleg Syromolotov, a deputy foreign minister and former head of counterintelligence for Russia's Federal Security Service, highlighted the potential that AI in the hands of terrorists could pose a threat to society. He argued for international cooperation to develop rules to cope with this threat. He also discussed the ways that digital technologies are already being used to ensure safety of peaceful citizens, such as the Foreign Assistant app, which uses automated data analysis to provide information to Russian citizens abroad about occurring or potential emergency situations in their location. According to Syromolotov, this app was helpful in assisting Russian diplomats in evacuating Russian citizens at the start of the coronavirus epidemic in 2020.

Sources: Vladimir Snegirev, "What are the MFA's weapons in combating global threats" [Каким оружием в борьбе с вызовами глобального характера располагает МИД РФ], Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Nov. 18, 2021, https://rg.ru/2021/11/18/kakim-oruzhiem-v-borbe-s-vyzovami- globalnogo-haraktera-raspolagaet-mid-rf.html; "Moscow has called AI in terrorist hands a new threat" [Москва назвала искусственный интеллект в руках террористов новой угрозой], Izvestiya, Nov. 18, 2021, https://iz.ru/1251524/2021-11-18/moskva-nazvala-iskusstvennyi- intellekt-v-rukakh-terroristov-novoi-ugrozoi.

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DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A. Approved for public release: distribution unlimited. 12/6/2021
This work was performed under Federal Government Contract No. N00014-16-D-5003.

Details

  • Pages: 26
  • Document Number: DOP-2021-U-031356-Final
  • Publication Date: 12/17/2021
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