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What just happened? If anything illustrates the importance of today's artificial intelligence industry, it's Vladimir Putin expressing concerns about the technology. The Russian president has warned that the West has a "dangerous" monopoly over AI and that Russia needs to increase its research and development in the area – a goal that won't be easy in a country so heavily sanctioned.
Speaking to an AI conference in Moscow, Putin called for the development of the country's own ChatGPT-style chatbots that could rival the "bias" Western models.
"I think you are well aware that some Western search engines, as well as some generative models, often work in a very selective, biased way," Putin said. He added that some of these technologies do not take into account Russian culture, or simply ignore and "cancel" it. Putin believes many modern systems are trained on Western data for Western markets.
"The monopolistic domination of such foreign creations in Russia is unacceptable, dangerous and inadmissible," Putin said.
Russia's government has spent years trying to develop its own tech industry and lessen the country's reliance on Western products and services. The invasion of Ukraine led to virtually all Western firms pulling out of Russia and suspending the sale of their products in the nation, further pushing it toward home-grown solutions.
AI chip exports to Russia and China are essentially banned by the US government
In September, Putin ordered his government to increase funding for developing supercomputers and AI research. "In the very near future, as one of the first steps, a presidential decree will be signed and a new version of the national strategy for the development of artificial intelligence will be approved," Putin told the conference.
Russia will need to change some laws, boost international cooperation, and ensure much more investment for the development of AI, said Putin, who praised Sberbank and Yandex for developing their own generative AI and large language models.
According to Stanford's Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (via Business Insider), the United States has 16 significant machine learning systems. The United Kingdom has eight, while Russia has just one. Furthermore, only three out of the hundreds of authors behind these systems come from Russia.
Back in March, Putin and China leader Xi Jinping announced that they intended to make their respective countries world leaders in IT, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence.
News that Russia is pouring investment into AI will likely worry those who fear the technology could destroy society, including director Ridley Scott, who compared it to a hydrogen bomb.