President Putin says Russia must rival ‘dangerous’ Western AI

This pool photograph distributed by Russian state agency Sputnik shows Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (C), accompanied by Russia’s top lender Sberbank CEO German Gref (L), touring an exhibition on the sidelines of an AI (artificial intelligence) conference in Moscow on November 24, 2023. (Photo by Mikhail KLIMENTYEV / POOL / AFP)

MOSCOW, Nov 24, 2023 (AFP) – President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that the West had a “dangerous” monopoly over artificial intelligence and Russia needed to rival “biased” Western chatbots with its own technology.

The race to develop AI has heated up since the breakout launch of the ChatGPT generative chatbot last year, with Russia and China spending billions to rival the United States’ dominance in the field.

“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 told an AI conference in Moscow.

“They do not take into account Russian culture, and sometimes simply ignore and cancel it… Many modern systems are trained on Western data for the Western market,” he said.

“The monopolistic domination of such foreign creations in Russia is unacceptable, dangerous and inadmissible,” he said, urging Russia to be “ahead of the curve”.

Russia’s tech industry has reeled from Moscow’s ongoing military offensive in Ukraine.

Thousands of IT workers have fled to avoid military mobilisation and Western sanctions have blocked access to computer parts.

Putin has repeatedly called for Moscow to end its dependence on Western technology and in September ordered his government to pour funding into developing supercomputers and AI research.

ChatGPT’s success sparked a rush among other tech firms and venture capitalists, with Google hurrying out its own chatbot and investors throwing cash into all manner of AI projects.

In April, Russia’s largest banking company Sber announced the launch of its own conversational artificial intelligence app called “Gigachat” but in test mode only.