Putin to boost AI work in Russia to fight a Western monopoly he says is ‘unacceptable and dangerous’

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday announced a plan to endorse a national strategy for the development of artificial intelligence, emphasizing that it’s essential to prevent a Western monopoly.

Speaking at an AI conference in Moscow, Putin noted that “it’s imperative to use Russian solutions in the field of creating reliable and transparent artificial intelligence systems that are also safe for humans.”

“Monopolistic dominance of such foreign technology in Russia is unacceptable, dangerous and inadmissible,” Putin said.

He noted that “many modern systems, trained on Western data are intended for the Western market” and “reflect that part of Western ethics, norms of behavior, public policy to which we object.”

During his more than two decades in power, Putin has overseen a multi-pronged crackdown on the opposition and civil society groups, and promoted “traditional values” to counter purported Western influence — policies that have become even more oppressive after he sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

Putin warned that algorithms developed by Western platforms could lead to a digital “cancellation” of Russia and its culture.

“An artificial intelligence created in line with Western standards and patterns could be xenophobic,” Putin said.

“Western search engines and generative models often work in a very selective, biased manner, do not take into account, and sometimes simply ignore and cancel Russian culture,” he said. “Simply put, the machine is given some kind of creative task, and it solves it using only English-language data, which is convenient and beneficial to the system developers. And so an algorithm, for example, can indicate to a machine that Russia, our culture, science, music, literature simply do not exist.”

He pledged to pour additional resources into the development of supercomputers and other technologies to help intensify national AI research.

“We are talking about expanding fundamental and applied research in the field of generative artificial intelligence and large language models,” Putin said.

“In the era of technological revolution, it is the cultural and spiritual heritage that is the key factor in preserving national identity, and therefore the diversity of our world, and the stability of international relations,” Putin said. “Our traditional values, the richness and beauty of the Russian languages and languages of other peoples of Russia must form the basis of our developments,” helping create “reliable, transparent and secure AI systems.”

Putin emphasized that trying to ban AI development would be impossible, but noted the importance of ensuring necessary safeguards.

“I am convinced that the future does not lie in bans on the development of technology, it is simply impossible,” he said. “If we ban something, it will develop elsewhere, and we will only fall behind, that’s all.”

Putin added that the global community will be able to work out the security guidelines for AI once it fully realizes the risks.

“When they feel the threat of its uncontrolled spread, uncontrolled activities in this sphere, a desire to reach agreement will come immediately,” he said.