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Global AI: Russian experts on country cooperation in artificial intelligence

October 2, 2020|
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In late September, the United States and the United Kingdom had signed a new agreement to cooperate on research and development of artificial intelligence. It provides for the promotion of research in the field of AI, the creation of an ecosystem of developments in this area, as well as opposing the use of such developments by authoritarian-repressive regimes.

Declaration of the United States of America and the United Kingdom on Cooperation in AI Research and Development

ICT.Moscow gathered the opinions of representatives of domestic companies on the possible impact of this event on the development of AI in Russia.

Impact on the industry: barriers or opportunities?  

The agreement between the United States and Great Britain could potentially negatively affect Russian developers of AI solutions, believes Alexander Tyulkanov of the Skolkovo Foundation. The expert draws attention to the provision of the document that these countries plan to oppose the use of artificial intelligence technologies by "authoritarian-repressive regimes."  

It seems that any assessment of a particular regime as authoritarian or repressive is inevitably subjective. Therefore, such provisions of the Declaration can be used to protect the economic interests of the United States and Great Britain in relations not only with the generally recognized repressive regimes like North Korea, but also with other countries. First of all, with China. Taking this into account, and in the context of the topic “the threat of Russian hackers” that is constantly spread in the foreign press, Russian developers and exporters could potentially suffer as well.  

Alexander Tyulkanov

Deputy Department Director for the Regulation of Cyberphysical Systems and Big Data at Skolkovo Foundation

Andrey Neznamov from Sberbank is more optimistic and notes that the signing of this agreement will practically not affect domestic developers.

In the case of the US and UK act, everything looks quite promising. But this is unlikely to have a direct impact on Russian companies. Indirectly, it may mean that foreign companies can get several small but important advantages over Russian ones.

Andrey Neznamov

Executive Director of the Center of Data Research for Government Agencies at Sberbank

Alexander Korobkov, CEO of Macroscop, believes that "cooperation at the state level can potentially become a support for certain market players, as well as introduce a number of restrictions for others." However, he emphasizes that for an objective assessment of the situation, it is necessary to know the context and details of this agreement, which have not yet been published.

In the absence of this information, all other things being equal, I do not see any threats or any benefit from this agreement for Russian IT companies. The field of information technology is international. Cooperation at the business level proceeds independently of any interstate agreements. As in any business, regardless of geography, choosing a particular product, customers will focus on the quality of the product, ease of use, cost and the ability to get technical support.

Alexander Korobko

CEO of Macroscop

This kind of agreement will not become a barrier to the export of Russian solutions, says Oleg Kivokurtsev, co-founder of Promobot. He believes that this is primarily about fundamental research in the field of artificial intelligence, and this kind of international research groups is a frequent practice, as a result of which, thanks to the difference in the approaches of scientists, unique solutions appear. 

Since the agreement is based on research objectives, the cooperation itself includes interaction between laboratories, universities and other research institutions. Accordingly, grants will be allocated for these developments, which research groups will master. As a result, technologies that can be used on the market will appear, having  a positive effect on competition in this area, both in Russia and in the world.

Oleg Kivokurtsev

CBDO and Founder at Promobot

Vladimir Arlazarov, Head of Smart Engines, also agrees with Kivokurtsev. Such agreements will have a positive effect on the regulation of the use of technology, he believes.

I believe that such agreements and the expansion of multinational contacts will only benefit the development of science and technology related to artificial intelligence. In addition, it can accelerate the equalization of legal regulations for the use of AI technologies, which will have a positive impact on sales.

Vladimir Arlazarov

CEO at Smart Engines, Ph.D.

Russia in the international AI arena

In August, the Concept for the Regulation of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics until 2024 (hereinafter - the Concept) was approved in Russia. Alexander Tyulkanov from the Skolkovo Foundation was among the developers of the concept. According to him, the authors of this document, among other things, proceeded from the need to defend Russia's interests in the field of AI at the international level.

The Declaration [between the US and the UK] is neither the only nor the most significant international document in this area. Obviously, some problems, including standardization in the field of artificial intelligence technologies, as well as harmonization of approaches to humanitarian-oriented regulation of the use of these technologies, can only be solved together, with the help of international organizations, such as ISO, UNESCO, the Council of Europe. As part of their work on the relevant documents, there is now an objective opportunity to take into account the interests of developers, including Russian and Russia can and should take advantage of this opportunity.

Alexander Tyulkanov

Deputy Department Director for the Regulation of Cyberphysical Systems and Big Data at Skolkovo Foundation

Andrei Neznamov from Sberbank, who also participated in the development of the Concept, also recalls that this is not the first case of local unification of countries for the development of AI, but it cannot be said that the declarations gave any special impetus, the expert says. Meanwhile, Neznamov emphasizes that such agreements are beneficial to the development of technologies.

Even if the agreement remains merely a formality, this brings AI to the state and public agenda for a while. If the documents signed are working agreements, then they are able to give a serious competitive advantage to the members of the union. I am convinced that Russia should strive to form similar intercountry partnerships and agreements.  

Andrey Neznamov

Executive Director of the Center of Data Research for Government Agencies at Sberbank

All this is consonant with the opinion of Vladimir Averbakh from Sberbank. Speaking at CIPR-2020 as part of the session "What will be the development of artificial intelligence in Russia?", the expert noted that one of the new trends now is the international regulation of AI. The topic  of AI and the question of the operation of autonomous systems is raised everywhere, including Council of Europe, UNESCO, Averbach noted. According to him, Russia does not have much time to declare itself on the international artificial intelligence arena.  

We have a window of opportunity of 2-3 years when we are in an equal starting situation with the rest of the world. The topic is new, the race is underway, but at the moment there are no superprincipled lags. And we need to use the window of 2-3 years at maximum power.  

Vladimir Averbakh

Head of the Center of Data Research for Government Agencies at Sberbank

Original (in Russian)

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