President Vladimir Putin's recent address at the Artificial Intelligence Journey Conference in Moscow showcased Russia's aspirations in the AI field.
However, the reality of Russian AI development is far from promising due to various factors, including the recent invasion of Ukraine and the resulting exodus of tech talent.
Putin acknowledged the challenges faced by Russia's AI industry and proposed a four-point plan to address these issues. Despite these efforts, the country still lags behind in AI development due to financial constraints, sanctions, and international isolation.
Putin's plan includes broadening access to supercomputers, expanding AI classes at universities, and increasing state funding for AI. While these steps are essential, they may not be sufficient given Russia's budget deficit and limited economic capacity compared to global rivals.
Furthermore, Putin hinted at the security implications of Russia's precarious AI situation. He emphasized the need for AI ethics and suggested that Russia would use its upcoming presidency of BRICS to explore these issues.
Under the banner of "AI Ethics," Russia might seek to collaborate with China to shape an AI framework that aligns with authoritarian rule. China, with its extensive experience in censorship and AI ethics, could play a pivotal role in this alliance.
This potential alliance raises concerns about the use of AI to reinforce authoritarianism. While Russia may import and train on foundational models, China's expertise in developing AI conforming to authoritarian standards could prove instrumental.
In the global AI race, an AI ethical framework led by BRICS could enable dictatorial regimes to leverage AI technology while maintaining control over information spaces. However, this would likely require Russia to relinquish its leadership ambitions and accept a junior partner status in the alliance.
As AI continues to shape the future, Russia's path forward involves navigating complex challenges and seeking partnerships that align with its objectives.