Military, political and business leaders in Moscow have long understood the importance of controlling the information space to preserve power. The fear of “color revolutions” that could become popular on social media created it Moscow has redoubled its efforts to increase control in the region, but today it is clear that this is unlikely to happen.
Faced with both the nature of AI being created by provoking the war in Ukraine and the deep wounds it has inflicted on itself, Russia’s ability to take leadership in this field is rapidly diminishing.
Russian leaders were surprised by such dynamic growth of social media. After the outbreak of the so-called Twitter revolution in Chisinau, they clearly understood the extent of potential threats related to developing technology. – Protests organized in part on American social media while preventing the Moldovan Communist Party from winning the 2009 elections.
A series of social movements coming to the fore in various countries has convinced much of the Russian leadership that, as Putin put it, social media “fosters conspiracies and is funded from outside.”
In Moscow’s view, the West has launched a full-scale information war against anyone who opposes it, with events such as the 2011-2012 protests in Bolotnaya Square (the biggest protests of the Putin era, gory). His resignation, Russians used social media to organize strikes and document abuses by officials – ed.).
Not just social media
A year later, breakthrough discoveries in the field of neural networks occurred, sparking a revolution in artificial intelligence research. However, as Russia began to gain momentum, it attacked Crimea and the Donbass, alarming international collaborators.
Undeterred, the Kremlin, after many discussions on the matter Importance of artificial intelligence For the future, it released a national strategy in 2019, 66 billion rubles (approx. PLN 2.95 billion) of federal investments to finance conferences, create research networks and collaborate with national technology giants.
However, most of the progress Russia made in this area over the past three years “evaporated” when it decided to invade Ukraine.. Nvidia – a Silicon Valley-based technology company that produces microprocessors critical to advanced tasks in the field of artificial intelligence – has stopped selling its products in Russia. Skilled technicians began to leave the country en masse.
Added to this were sanctions that further restricted Russian access to advanced technologies. In November of this year, US company OpenAI released ChatGPT-3 as Russia’s AI industry grappled with the aftermath of the invasion.
The threat of artificial intelligence
Russia’s AI strategy focuses on defense, manufacturing, and agriculture, all of which are much less used for productive AI than consumer industries. Nevertheless, the release of such a comprehensive tool as ChatGPT came as a shock to the Kremlin. Because if social media can topple regimes, what power could a sophisticated bot capable of conducting human-like conversations have?
So Russia quickly banned ChatGPT in the country, no doubt models trained in English-language media interpret the world the same way people growing up using English-language media interpret the world. This fear is justified: computer models cannot know more than they are trained to.
Woman in front of Yandex headquarters, Moscow, 2018.
If they were trained on 10 times more English than Russian data – as was the case with ChatGPT – the model would be more likely to produce results similar to responses in English-language media.
State-of-the-art models have an advantage of being tested on large amounts of data, with English-speaking users generating more of them than the rest of the world. This creates a fundamental problem for Russia’s strategic goal of protecting itself against the influence of English-language media or data.
A deep ditch
Although Russian is the second or third most popular language for online data, it is still only 5%. All data. The difference between a model trained on quantitative data from the Russian Internet and a model tested on a dataset of the entire Internet is the difference between ChatGPT-3 and state-of-the-art models of 2019. This is undoubtedly a gap and it will only grow with time.
Logo of Russian state bank Sber on top of one of the towers in Moscow. On April 24, 2023, Sber announced the launch of its chat artificial intelligence application to compete with ChatGPT.
This means that the main Russian AI models – YaChat from Yandex, GigaChat from Sberbank and SistemmaChat from Sistemma Bank – are already at a disadvantage from the start. For example, GigaChat includes 18 billion parameters. In comparison, ChatGPT supports 1.76 trillion, and ChatGPT-3 – 175 billion.
Russian tech bloggers comparing their country’s domestic models to ChatGPT see a huge advantage over the American competitor. The number of parameters supported by GigaChat will undoubtedly increase, which will require an increase in computing power. Western sanctions and suspended operations have led to a shortage of the necessary chips in Russia, severely limiting its capabilities in this area.
Censorship is a double-edged sword
The government has exacerbated this problem by introducing strict regulations restricting access to information unfavorable to the government.
Both Alice and Gigasat ask “What causes special military action?” Not only do they refuse to answer controversial questions like, but “What is Russia doing to promote artificial intelligence research?” refuses to answer even relatively neutral questions like ChatGPT, on the other hand, has no such scruples. If asked about it, he would happily give a standard Western answer in Russian.
The overall outlook for Russia’s AI sector is bleak. Stanford’s ranking of global centers for artificial intelligence development puts the country below Norway and just above Denmark, whose combined population is smaller than Moscow’s. After the start of a war that caused many talented technologists to leave the country, triggered economic sanctions that led to shortages of necessary equipment and laws that hindered the development of generative artificial intelligence, Russia is hopelessly behind. Race to develop this technology.
The war in Ukraine has affected Moscow in every way imaginable – From instigating NATO operations to strengthening Ukrainian national consciousness. If Putin truly believes that the future masters of artificial intelligence will be the masters of the universe, closing Russia’s narrow window to catch up in the field could be the most devastating outcome of this war for the Kremlin.
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