Putin orders state support for AI as race heats up

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his government to fund research into artificial intelligence as competition with the West to develop such technology heats up, according to a Kremlin document published Thursday.

Generative AI bots burst into the spotlight late in 2022 after US-made ChatGPT demonstrated its ability to engage in human-like conversations, prompting Russia to develop its own technology.

According to the document, Putin has ordered the government to “implement measures” to support AI research, including by “providing for an annual allocation from the federal budget”.

This research would include “optimising machine learning algorithms” as well as developing “large language models” – such as the one developed by OpenAI’s ChatGPT – the document said.

It also called on state-owned firms to accelerate the roll-out of AI and ordered the government to support the creation of “super computers” by providing benefits to Russian manufacturers.

Putin has repeatedly called for Russia to achieve what he calls “technological sovereignty”, as Western sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine block Moscow from getting computer parts such as semiconductors.

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.

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

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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